Oxford English Dictionary Definition for Biker Deemed “Too Negative”

Honda Grom "bikers"


Do you identify yourself as a “biker,” a “motorcyclist,” or a “rider?” To some people, the terms are fairly interchangeable. To others, the terms are more finely nuanced, as the people behind the Oxford English Dictionary discovered.

Last February, the online edition for the Oxford English Dictionary rewrote its definition for “biker” after receiving complaints from motorcyclists. Riders took exception to the old definition which read: “a motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang: a long-haired biker in dirty denims.”

In a poll of 524 motorcycle riders, nearly three-quarters of them said the definition was inaccurate, while 60% said it was “dated and irrelevant.” Another 21% had a more passionate reaction, saying they were “outraged and offended.”

In response, the Oxford University Press, which publishes the OED, updated the definition to read: “a motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang or group: a biker was involved in a collision with a car.”

We’re not entirely sure that’s much better, but we don’t bill ourselves to be the “most comprehensive dictionary of the English language.”