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Merriam-Webster Names ‘They’ Its Word Of The Year


The eleventh edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is seen stacked on other dictionaries at the company's headquarters in Springfield, Mass., Tuesday, July 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Merriam-Webster has named “they” its word of the year.

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The US dictionary also recently added a new definition of “they”, reflecting its use as a singular personal pronoun for non-binary people.

Searches for “they” on Merriam-Webster’s website were 313 per cent higher this year than they were in 2018.

Sam Smith wearing a white shirt: Singer Sam Smith came out as non-binary this year, and confirmed that their pronouns are they/them

Singer Sam Smith came out as non-binary this year, and confirmed that their pronouns are they/themBritish pop star Sam Smith came out as non-binary in March, and in September he confirmed on Instagram that their pronouns were “they/them”.

Announcing their pronouns, Smith wrote: “I understand there will be many mistakes and misgendering, but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me (as) I see myself now.”

A number of other high-profile non-binary figures were also in the news this year.

Another non-binary model, Ayesha Tan Jones, was also in the news in September – for staging a silent protest while walking a Gucci show in September.

Non-binary artists have gained prominence in the UK too.

Travis Alabanza’s play Burgerz is based on a transphobic attack in which someone threw a burger at them, while Amrou al-Kadhi – aka Glamrou – released their memoir Unicorn, on life as a Muslim drag queen.

Last month, Collins dictionary also recognised the term “non-binary” as a description of people who do not identify as male or female.

Previous Merriam-Webster words of the year

2018: justice

2017: feminism

2016: surreal

2015: -ism

2014: culture

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