Tom Brady Helped Put GOAT in the Dictionary

Merriam-Webster added GOAT, and you'll be pretty shocked to learn who it was first used to describe online.
Photo by Larry W. Smith—EPA

It turns out Patriots fans have actually done something that has made a positive, lasting impact—in the world of academia, nonetheless. "GOAT," which stands for "Greatest Of All Time" for those of you who live under a rock, is one of the latest entries into Merriam-Webster's dictionary and according to, Tom Brady played a big role in that decision.

I know what you're thinking: Christ almighty, did that pretty boy submit the word himself, along with a headshot? I thought the same thing. But alas, no. There are procedures for dictionary entries, it turns out. According to Merriam-Webster editor Peter Sokolowski, per, there are three primary requirements for considering a word for entry:


"We want to see the word fit three criteria. One, is it used by many people in many places? Two, is it being used consistently and increasingly? In other words, long term use. And three, we call it meaningful use. That means of the people using this term, do they use it the same way or to mean the same thing?”

Brady apparently helped inflate criteria Nos. 1 and 2 for GOAT because the man is an absolute outlier in terms of usage:

"While there’s no question that the term GOAT is also used with reference to Serena Williams, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and Lionel Messi, mentions of 'GOAT' together with 'Brady' are between two and four times more frequent than “GOAT” with any of these other famous athletes in the NEXIS database of newspapers."

(God bless this man for his clever little Ronaldo snub.)

So there you have it. Brady is the GOAT of GOATness. No doubt that if you were to track a geographic use of the word, New England would be red-hot and everywhere else in the self-respecting world would be frigid blue.

Oh, and there are a couple of other amazing little tidbits about the word. First off, understandably, Muhammad Ali is one of the origin points of the use of the term, with Ali's wife Lonnie incorporating G.O.A.T. Inc. in 1992 to manage his intellectual properties. But perhaps the most fascinating little factoid to come from this article is the word's first appearance on the internet, which was on an Orlando Magic forum in 1996 about…Penny Hardaway.

“The sentence is simply, ‘Penny is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time),'” said Sokolowski. “That’s the oldest quotation that we have of this word.”

Truly, we are all still debating whether it's LeBron, MJ or, uh, Penny Hardaway(?) who is the greatest of all time.