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Merriam-Webster adds 'they' as nonbinary pronoun to dictionary

September 18, 2019 - 12:24 pm
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(SPRINGFIELD, Mass.) -- Merriam-Webster has added another definition for the word "they" that can be used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary, or someone who expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male or entirely female.

The reference book company used the word as an example in this sentence: "They had adopted their gender-neutral name a few years ago, when they began to consciously identify as nonbinary."

In a post on its website, the company acknowledged that "they" has been used to refer to a single person since the 13th century and that the development of the singular use mirrors the development of the singular use of "you" from the plural "you."

Merriam-Webster noted that, while some may say the use of "they" in a singular form is ungrammatical, people have used it to describe someone whose gender is unknown for a "long time," although the nonbinary use of the word is "relatively new."

"Much has been written on they, and we aren’t going to attempt to cover it here," the post stated.

Merriam-Webster also announced the addition of 530 new words on Tuesday, including deep state, dad joke and escape room.

New abbreviations include "vacay," short for vacation, "sesh," short for session and "inspo," short for inspiration.

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