Even the dictionary took notice

Even the dictionary took notice

Fatberg has made an unfortunate impact. 

So prevalent is the term used to describe a large mass of fat and solid waste that collects in a sewer system been used, it’s found its way into the dictionary. 

Here’s hoping the word’s induction into the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary equates to the reduction of fatbergs in our sewer systems.

More than 530 new words and meanings were added to the dictionary this fall, along with another 4,000 revisions to definitions, etymologies, pronunciations and dates of first known use, according to Merriam-Webster.


The word “fatberg” first made its appearance in the world in 2008, according to the dictionary. A decade later, it’s now in the dictionary. Depending on your field, you may be more familiar with the stomach-churning, solidified, blockage of a fixture that makes its way into sewer systems despite being preventable.

In early October 2019, scientists revealed what made up a giant fatberg discovered in the sewer of a small coastal town in England in 2018. The scientists were recruited after a 140-ton, 210-foot-long fatberg was discovered. 

The discovery largely illustrates what the town’s residents flushed – items that should never go down the toilet, including “flushable” wet wipes and sanitary products. The monstrosity, and the recent dictionary addition, serves to remind homeowners not everything can go down the toilet. 

Flushing the wrong things can create major problems for a home, a pocketbook, even for the city. Wet wipes, feminine hygiene products, condoms, cotton swabs, paper towels and tooth floss are routinely removed from pipes by plumbers after a backup of sewage into homes and businesses. Without thought, the wet wipes flushed in one drain are mixing with turkey fat the neighbor poured down their sink drain, and a fatberg is born.

More fat, oil, grease, “flushable” wipes meet beneath the streets, compacting the already sewage-packed fatberg, creating not only a gross situation, but a major financial drain for a city.

Use your new-found knowledge of a new word in the dictionary to remind your friends and family to quit using the toilet as a trashcan. 

When in doubt, leave it out. 

Together we can quit flushing money down the drain.

See more words added to Merriam-Webster here.