Over 500 New Words Added To The Merriam Webster Dictionary
Included in a list of over 500 words and new meanings just added to the Merriam Webster dictionary is a new definition for the word "they" — specifically, as a singular pronoun used by people whose gender is non-binary.
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The expanded usage sits alongside embiggened definitions for "inclusive" and "colorism", as well as new entries for pop culture phrases ranging from "dad joke" and "vacay" to "sesh", "escape room", and "coulrophobia". (That's the word for fear of clowns, which certainly has some increased relevance right now.)
"It's an expansion of a use that is sometimes called the 'singular they' (and one that has a long history in English)," explains a post on the dictionary's official site. "When a reflexive pronoun corresponding to singular use of they is needed, themself is seeing increasing use."
It's an important update, as people whose pronouns are "they" and "them" are still being confronted by pedants who insist that the usage is not grammatically correct.
It's long been perfectly fine to use "they" to refer to a single person whose gender is unknown or undetermined, as in "Someone's at the door — can you see what they want?" But certain folks still can't seem to cope with the exact same usage when it's in reference to a specific person. (Although if someone's trying to correct you when you tell them your pronouns, it might not actually be your grammar they have a problem with.)
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