Merriam-Webster Dictionary has added an official definition for the word ‘kayfabe.’
On September 27th, it was announced that Merriam-Webster would be adding 690 new words to its dictionary including doggo, cromulent, and chef’s kiss.
One of the newly-added words is quite familiar to wrestling fans as kayfabe now has an official dictionary definition. Merriam-Webster defines the term as follows:
1. the tacit agreement between professional wrestlers and their fans to pretend that overtly staged wrestling events, stories, characters, etc., are genuine
broadly: tacit agreement to behave as if something is real, sincere, or genuine when it is not
2. the playacting involved in maintaining kayfabe
According to the dictionary, the origin of the word is obscure, though they do their best to explain where the wrestling term comes from, stating:
NOTE: Given that kayfabe may deliberately have been coined to be as opaque as possible, it is not surprising that the etymology of this word is obscure. The attempt to explain it as a permutation of “be fake”—by turning fake into Pig Latin akefay and then reshuffling the letters?—is not convincing. The initial kay could be a clipping of a Pig Latin word, but as the identity of the source word is unknown, this conjecture leads nowhere. Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, finds the earliest citation to be from an issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, yearbook for 1988, p. 81. The word is unquestionably older, however. Note that a letter to the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune (May 4, 1971, p. 51) concerning a fight between Dick the Bruiser and Angelo Poffo is signed “Mark Kayfabe,” a name presumably made up from mark “the victim of a con” and kayfabe.
“It’s Still Real To Us” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary Defends Adding ‘Kayfabe’ To The Dictionary
When it was pointed out on X (formerly known as Twitter) that providing a definition for the term seemed to undermine the word itself, Merriam-Webster responded:
“It’s still real to us.”
It’s still real to us.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) September 29, 2023