Bryan Garner

How old is “bench slap”? Should I put it in Black’s Law Dictionary? How would you define it?

– Legal writing guru Bryan Garner, editor of Black’s Law Dictionary and co-author (with Justice Scalia) of Reading Law (affiliate links), asking on Twitter about a possible addition to Black’s.

(Information about the origins of “benchslap,” after the jump.)

You can see the full Twitter conversation, including proposed definitions, here and here. As I tweeted, I believe that I was the first person to use the term, back in a 2004 post on my first blog, Underneath Their Robes. A 2005 piece in the New Yorker and a 2006 piece in the New York Times also credit me with the term.

In addition, as noted by Keith Lee on Twitter, Matthew Bowers — who wrote the book on benchslaps, entitled Benchslapped: Publicly Humiliating Judicial Opinions (affiliate link) — also credits me with the term. See here.

Do you know of other neologisms that might merit inclusion in Black’s Law Dictionary? If so, Bryan Garner would love to hear about them.

Black’s Law Dictionary [Amazon (affiliate link)]
Benchslapped: Publicly Humiliating Judicial Opinions [Amazon (affiliate link)]
Reading Law [Amazon (affiliate link)]


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