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Website allows any user to add to vocabulary, creates entertainment

Urban Dictionary devotes itself to helping the blind, deaf and dumb of trending social interaction and phenomena.

Originally created by Aaron Peckham in 1999, Urban Dictionary contains millions of definitions, descriptions and examples of commonly used slang. The website, said Montana Miller, assistant professor of popular culture, is something that was very much needed.

“It was created to be a dictionary of slang,” Miller said. “The beautiful thing about having it on the Internet is that it’s able to evolve, adapt and be updated constantly as slang does.”

Urban Dictionary is extremely efficient in tracking the latest trend, which is largely due to its user friendly policy. Like Wikipedia, anyone can post information on Urban Dictionary, allowing for the website to be updated constantly by thousands and regulated by volunteers. However, because anyone may attribute virtually anything to the website, it also allows for less sought after material.

Eight out of 10 terms on Urban Dictionary are “explicitly sexual,” Miller said. She also warned that the mass amounts of vulgarity may be stopping people with more traditional values from using the website.

“Eighty percent of people who use Urban Dictionary are 25 or younger and it’s too bad,” Miller said. “It’s an excellent tool for keeping up with rapidly evolving slang; the more we use it, the less it’ll tip into the lude, off-color stuff.”

There will almost always be a gap in communication between new and old generations, as older generations have their own slang terms. However, Miller said tools like Urban Dictionary can help bridge the gap.

“It furthers communication of a very spontaneous, modern, casual sort,” she said.

Whether viewed as funny, inappropriate or down right disturbing, the site attracts more users every year. Post-secondary student Lucas Lyner, who is signed up for the site’s mailing list, thinks the website is great and is escalating in popularity.

“I didn’t even know what it was until about two years ago,” Lyner said. “But it was funny and interesting and now everybody knows what it is.”

Sophomore Stefanie Ward is also a frequent user and uses the website for laughs and information on what she hears around her.

“If I hear someone say a phrase or word that I don’t know, I use [Urban Dictionary] to avoid awkward questions,” Ward said.

There are many words that can be found on the website.

“These words and phrases are in common place and there are a lot of them,” Lyner said. “Urban Dictionary puts a label on the confusion.”

Urban Dictionary has been around for 14 years, a longer stay on the Internet than powerhouse, Facebook, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. But will Urban Dictionary weather the sands of time? Miller thinks it will.

“I’m optimistic about Urban Dictionary,” she said. “It has as much staying power as any website out there and it provides an excellent service.”

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