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Bechdel Joins Goldberg in Merriam-Webster

I hate to discuss this in relation to a man but … Alison Bechdel has joined Rube Goldberg as a cartoonist whose name is now a word in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

“Bechdel Test” is one of over 500 new words added to the M-W dictionary in September 2019.

Hat tip to Seven Days for the notice.

Thanks to Tribeca for the comic strip.

The only other cartoonist name in a dictionary as a defined word that comes to mind is Heath Robinson – that is in British dictionaries; but my (very old) Webster’s Collegiate does not have “Heath Robinson” (it does have “Rube Goldberg”).  Racking my feeble brain, I can’t think of another.

Congratulations to Alison!


Community Comments

#1 Brad Walker
@ 9:52 am

Some mysteries from the Thirties mentioned a “Hokinson woman,” after New Yorker cartoonist Helen Hokinson. She drew well-upholstered women “of a certain age”; Sondheim might have called them “the ladies who lunch.”

And don’t forget the Gibson Girl. There used to be a chain of ice cream parlors called Farrell’s that featured artwork by Charles Dana Gibson. (The last location, in Brea, California, closed this year.)

#2 Brad Walker
@ 10:01 am


If a Hokinson woman met a Gibson Girl, would they pass the Bechtel Test?

#3 D. D. Degg
@ 10:05 am

Excellent Brad. I’m not finding “Hokinson woman” in the dictionary, but “Gibson girl” is in my Webster’s Collegiate.

#4 D. D. Degg
@ 10:09 am

“If a Hokinson woman met a Gibson Girl, would they pass the Bechtel Test?”

Well…so long as their subject of conversation was NOT the Leyendecker Arrow Collar Man.

#5 Carl Laws
@ 11:47 am

D.D., M-W gives pretty short shrift to Gibson. Wikipedia, OTOH, goes much more in depth:

FWIW, I think they’d fail the Bechtel Test. After all, the Arrow Collar Man was the bee’s knees. (Not that any respectable Gibson Girl would _ever_ comment on anatomy. Just the collar.) :)

#6 Benjamin L Clark
@ 12:39 pm

Charles Schulz was referenced by the OED for “security blanket,” when it was added in 1986, though he acknowledged the term was around before he was used it in Peanuts.

#7 Kip Williams
@ 9:50 pm

Hokinson’s women were like multiple manifestations of Margaret Dumont.

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