Merriam-Webster announced Tuesday that the word “they” was its “Word of the Year for 2019,” mainly due to the news it garnered as a term used by individuals who identify as gender nonconforming.
In an announcement, Merriam-Webster said “they” was the most-looked-up word this year, with the dictionary company noting that the word saw a 313 percent increase in lookups in 2019 compared to last year.
“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,” Merriam-Webster explained.
“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.”
Merriam-Webster went on to note that the nonbinary use of “they” was added to their dictionary in September and highlighted multiple news items fostering searches for the word.
“Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., revealed in April during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Equality Act that her child is gender-nonconforming and uses they,” the announcement added.
“Singer Sam Smith announced in September that [he] now use[s] they and them as pronouns. And the American Psychological Association’s blog officially recommended that singular they be preferred in professional writing over ‘he or she’ when the reference is to a person whose gender is unknown or to a person who prefers they,” Merriam-Webster continued.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski