, Gloucester, MA

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July 16, 2007

'Perfect storm' makes it way into dictionary

The phrase "the perfect storm" was coined on-air by TV meteorologist Todd Gross during the brutal 1991 nor'easter that took the lives of an entire crew of the Gloucester swordfishing vessel, the Andrea Gail.

Then the Channel 7 WHDH-TV weatherman's term became the title of Sebastian Junger's 1997 best-selling book, which in turn inspired the 2000 movie of the same name, starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Diane Lane. Both were about the events leading up to and including the disappearance of the vessel during the storm.

After the book and movie, the phrase entered the popular lexicon.

Now, it's official.

"Perfect storm," a noun, has been added to the 2007 Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. It's definition: "A critical or disastrous situation created by a powerful concurrence of factors."

How do fisherman and Gloucester residents feel about the phrase going into the dictionary?

"It would just be another meaningful word in the dictionary," said fisherman Bruce MacDiarmid, on the dock at St. Peter's Marina Friday. "How would you utilize that in the dictionary? I had a perfect storm kind of a day?"

Back when the "perfect storm" hit, weather forecasters displayed data showing a perfect confluence of three powerful weather systems. The three systems conspired to whip late-season Hurricane Grace into a gigantic low pressure system centered about 400 miles east of New York City.

Some believe the phrase shouldn't be in the dictionary because it represents something that brought devastation and tragedy to a community.

"I think it's getting way too much publicity for what it's worth," fisherman Brad Roxby said.

The "perfect storm" hit the Andrea Gail with 30-foot seas, and 50- to 80-knot winds.

"It was an unusual one that's for sure - one of those 100-year storms," said Joe Mondello, sitting on a stool at the Crow's Nest. The crew of the Andrea Gail often hung out at the bar, which became a tourist attraction after the book and movie came out.

Mondello also said that "there would be nothing wrong" with "perfect storm" being in the dictionary.

Welcome to the dictionary

Here are a few of the 100 new words that Merriam-Webster is including in its latest dictionary.

* agnolotti

* Bollywood

* chaebol

* crunk


* flex-cuff

* ginormous

* gray literature

* hardscape


* microgreen

* nocebo

* perfect storm


* smackdown

* snowboardcross

* speed dating

* sudoku

* telenovela

* viewshed

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