‘Super PAC’ Is Now a Real Term, Says Merriam-Webster

The dictionary for “Real America” adds the term two years after the Oxford English Dictionary.

A Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is displayed in a bookstore November 10, 2003 in Niles, Illinois. 
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Elahe Izad
March 18, 2014, 9:34 a.m.

In the world of words, you haven’t truly made it un­til you get in­to Mer­ri­am-Web­ster. Well, “su­per PAC,” you’ve hit the big time, baby.

Mer­ri­am-Web­ster has ad­ded the term to its on­line un­abridged dic­tion­ary, re­ports the Cen­ter for Pub­lic In­teg­rity’s Dave Lev­inth­al. “Su­per PAC,” as Mer­ri­am-Web­ster defines it, is “a type of polit­ic­al ac­tion com­mit­tee that is leg­ally per­mit­ted to raise and spend lar­ger amounts of money than the amounts al­lowed for a con­ven­tion­al PAC.”

It’s dif­fi­cult to ima­gine a world in which a su­per PAC ex­is­ted, but was of­fi­cia­ly known as “in­de­pend­ent ex­pendit­ure-only polit­ic­al ac­tion com­mit­tee.” You can thank Roll Call‘s Eliza Newl­in Car­ney for the much short­er and more ex­cit­ing term; she ap­par­ently coined it in 2010 when she was a Na­tion­al Journ­al re­port­er.

The Ox­ford Eng­lish Dic­tion­ary, which pro­claims it­self as “the defin­it­ive re­cord of the Eng­lish lan­guage,” ad­ded the term back in 2012. But we prefer to think of Mer­ri­am-Web­ster, which sells “Amer­ica’s best-selling desk dic­tion­ary,” as the ref­er­ence guide of choice for “Real Amer­ica.”


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