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merriam-webster adds ‘they’ as a gender-neutral pronoun, declares it word of the year

December 12, 2019
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The good people of Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary took a powerful step towards evolving inclusionary language and have added “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun to the dictionary. While “they” has long been the pronoun identifier for many folks who don’t identify solely or at all as the two binary-constructed genders ‘he’ and ‘she,’ many more have been dragging their feet when it comes to acknowledging this. Using pretty weak excuses about grammatical rules, cis hets can’t seem to get it together. But, Merriam-Webster is here to collect them by adding “they,” a singular pronoun, into its book as well as naming it the word of the year.

“Our Word of the Year for 2019 is ‘they.’ It reflects a surprising fact: even a basic term — a personal pronoun — can rise to the top of our data,” the dictionary publisher said in an announcement. “English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like everyone or someone, and as a consequence, ‘they’ has been used for this purpose for over 600 years,” the dictionary publisher writes.

“More recently, though, ‘they’ has also been used to refer to one person whose gender identity is nonbinary, a sense that is increasingly common in published, edited text, as well as social media and in daily personal interactions between English speakers.”