Florida man

[flawr-i-duh man]

What does Florida man mean?

Breaking news: Florida man attempts to rob circus performers but is subdued by clowns.

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Florida man is a generic descriptor for a person who commits bizarre or idiotic crimes, popularly associated with—and often reported in—Florida.

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Examples of Florida man

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Examples of Florida man

Florida man arrested after throwing burrito at girlfriend during argument: police

Bradford Betz, Fox News (headline), February, 2019
Florida Man arrested for killing PS4 player, calls on Xbox players to ready for war
@JackLikesCake, February, 2019
Runt of the Web

Where does Florida man come from?

Patch

There must be something in the water. When it comes to weirdness, Florida is king, as has long been the running joke. As early as 1995 in internet Usenet groups, fans of Chuck Shepherd’s newspaper column “News of the Weird,” which started in 1988, noticed that many of his strangest tales seemed to come from Florida newspapers.

In 1998, Florida journalist Eliot Kleinberg published a book, Weird Florida, that chronicled some of the oddest stories he ever had to report on. By the early 2000s, Florida was a well-established butt of the joke.

In May 2012, the phrase Florida man saw a spike in Google searches after Miami police shot a man from Florida (or Florida man), Rudy Eugene, who was attempting to eat another person’s face.

So, why Florida man? In journalism, it is common practice to use a generic descriptor for a criminal suspect if the specific name of the criminal is unimportant or not released by police. In Eugene’s case, he was a male resident of the state of Florida, i.e., Florida man, as he was reported around the world.

Florida man further spread in 2013 when the Twitter account, @_FloridaMan, started tweeting bizarre police reports about the sundry crimes of Florida man.

In February 2013, Florida man earned his own subreddit, which compiles stranger-than-fiction crimes in Florida.

But, why Florida? It might come down to accessibility. As the Miami New Times has noted in 2015, Florida has long ensured government records, including police reports, are public. This means that on a slow news day, it is easy for a media outlet to search through Florida police reports for an attention-getting story.

Who uses Florida man?

Whenever a bizarre crime is committed, especially in Florida, people are quick to joke that it was the work of Florida man.

@_FloridaMan continues to chronicle the strange antics of Florida man too.

But it’s not just Twitter. News outlets just can’t seem to help themselves from telling Florida man stories, keeping his legend strong.

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