Politics & Government

It's official: 'waterboarding' is a word, but is it torture?

Congress has debated the wisdom of it. Human rights groups have decried the use of it. Now Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people, have decided it's a real term that came into the American vernacular in 2004.

The word is waterboarding.

And the Springfield, Mass., publishing company announced Thursday that it had introduced the word into its 11th edition Collegiate Dictionary as a noun with the following definition:

"An interrogation technique in which water is forced into a detainee's mouth and nose so as to induce the sensation of drowning.''

An online announcement of the new words described the introduction of the term as part of the emergence of ''government activities'' and noted that besides waterboarding, the dictionary people also included the term "earmark.''

The environment also provided fodder for some new terms, such as "carbon footprint" and "green-collar," according to Thursday's announcement.

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