Merriam-Webster makes 'super PAC' official

Center for Public Integrity

"Super PAC" is officially legit.

Making good on a promise, language authority Merriam-Webster recently published an entry for "super PAC" in its online unabridged dictionary — a subscription-only product. Inclusion of "super PAC" in its free online dictionary is forthcoming, Associate Editor Kory Stamper told the Center for Public Integrity.

The Merriam-Webster entry reads:

Related: Meet 10 super PACs that rely on grassroots donors, not billionaires

The entry also includes quotations from campaign finance reform advocate Fred Wertheimer and New York Times reporter Nicholas Confessore to illustrate the use of "super PAC" in speech and writing.

Oxford Dictionaries and Associated Press Stylebook have previously inked "super PAC" entries in their respective publications.

Such a lexicographic development is, perhaps, no surprise: Super PACs have become electoral politics' white-hot stars since the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in 2010 helped facilitate their creation later that year.

Related: Unions dramatically increase super PAC donations

Together, super PACs raised more than $828 million and spent $609 million during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. These groups already have spent tens of millions of dollars more during the 2014 midterm election cycle, Federal Election Commission records indicate.

Super PACs have permeated popular culture, too, as key plot points in television serials from Netflix's "House of Cards" to ABC's "Castle."

No single show, however, boosted public awareness of super PACs quite like Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report."

Related: Billionaires use super PACs to advance pet causes

In the name of satire, comedian Stephen Colbert created his own super PAC, using it as a vehicle to incessantly poke fun at the nation's campaign finance system.

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This story is part of Primary Source. Primary Source keeps you up-to-date on developments in the post-Citizens United world of money in politics. Click here to read more stories in this blog.

Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.