Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 28:  Former New York Met Gary Carter thanks fans from the field in a post game ceremony after the last regular season baseball game ever played in Shea Stadium against the Florida Marlins on September 28, 2008 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets plan to start next season at their new stadium Citi Field after playing in Shea for over 44 years.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

gary carter

Did Gary Carter Invent the Term F-bomb?

We've all found ourselves in this situation: You need to mention the word fuck — perhaps somebody else said it in a story you're telling — but you're in a setting that requires a certain level of decorum. You need to convey exactly that word, though, so you find a substitute. F-word is played out, and adding or changing letters sounds a little juvenile, so you go with F-bomb. Everybody knows what you're talking about, yet you haven't offended any sensitive ears. Wonderful. But who can you thank for such a helpful minced oath?

Well, Merriam-Webster, purveyor of dictionaries that both sculpt and reflect the ever-evolving English language, decided to include the word F-bomb among its annual amendments, along with other gems like gastropub and sext. In the process of tracing back the roots of the new words, the M-W folks found themselves in the Mets clubhouse in the late-eighties. As it turns out, the late Gary Carter — by all accounts a clean-spoken gentleman — was quoted using that term to describe an exchange with umpire Greg Bonin in a 1988 Newsday article. The relevant snippet of that article (in which Carter also uses the term guttermouth, which should REALLY be in the dictionary) can be found at Deadspin.

Whether or not Carter actually originated the phrase, he seems to have popularized it, and that just fits right in with the rest of Carter's legendary character. His legacy is one of benevolence as much as it is of athletic success, so this bit of useful PG-ness, a gift that keeps on giving, fits right in. Thanks, Kid.

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images