What Does Urban Dictionary Say About Gender?


I want to share with you a story that begins in an upper division statistics class.

Two years ago, my friend Hannah and I were struggling over what to do for our data analytics final project.

Everyone was doing “a sentiment analysis of Donald Trump’s tweets” or something about NBA predictions. We didn’t want to touch politics or sports, at least not for this.

We arrived on our project idea: analyzing the gender achievement gap.

There was a heavy quantitative aspect of our project, but since we were being graded on the actual presentation of our results, we wanted to include something fun, visual, and relatable.

That’s why we webscraped all the Urban Dictionary definitions for “men” and “women”.

We were in for the shock of a lifetime, and so was our stats professor upon seeing these wordclouds brazenly displayed on huge slides.

Warning: These wordclouds may not be safe for kids.

The Battle of the Word Clouds

First up, the results for men. The most common word was “know”. “Bill” was up there too. We wanted to go back and look at why these were so prominent (does man mean Bill in the minds of the youths?), but unfortunately, we were running out of time.

Men like Bill know stuff.

Men like Bill know stuff.


The word cloud for women, though, was a completely different story. It was really exciting to show this one to the class.

Women…have vaginas?

Women…have vaginas?


Hannah and I paused after this slide to give the class (and our professor) a moment to draw their own conclusions of what this qualitative data visualization means on a societal level.

“Despite the issues with reliability and bias, your UrbanDictionary analysis is a great way to grab your audience's attention.” - James Sharpnack, Professor @ UC Davis

We hope it grabbed your attention too! Stay tuned for an updated 2019 visualization. You can sign up for our email list below - our next newsletter, releasing a week from now on 10/16/2019, will cover the gender gap.

And it’ll be a lot more actionable (and less biased…and more reliable) than Urban Dictionary word clouds.



Nivi Achanta