Merriam-Webster says: Fracking with a “k”

By Don Mason, Fuel Fix

The 2014 edition of the popular Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says the shortened form of “hydraulic fracturing” is “fracking,” and the verb is “frack.”

The dictionary publisher, part of the  Encyclopaedia Britannica Co., said Monday that the word is among more than 150 new ones in its latest edition.

Hydraulic fracturing is a well completion technology that releases oil and gas from tight rock by pumping sand, water and other fluids into a reservoir under pressure.

How to spell the shorthand version has been debated since soon after hydraulic fracturing emerged from the realm of oil field technical jargon and became the celebrated process behind an American energy renaissance.

Industry veterans have insisted the correct spelling is “fracing,” “fraccing,” or “frac’ing” — and some even say using the “k” makes it look like a more famous F-word.

But many writers settled on the spelling that corresponds with rhyming words like tracking.

The Associated Press Stylebook, which media outlets often use as the definitive reference on such matters, also goes with “fracking.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s glossary doesn’t list any form of the shortened term, although it includes definitions of “hydraulic fracturing.”

In an online glossary, the oil field services giant Schlumberger lists the verb and adjective as “frac,” but is silent on how to spell the noun.