‘They’ selected as word of the year by Merriam-Webster

The word “they” is the 2019 “word of the year,” Merriam-Webster announced Tuesday. 

The dictionary added the singular “they” to refer to one person whose gender identity is nonbinary in September. 

Merriam-Webster noted that the singular “they” was prominent in the news throughout the year, citing Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) comments during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Equality Act in April that her child is gender-nonconforming and uses the pronoun they.

Singer Sam Smith in September said that they now use gender non-conforming pronouns, too. 

Searches for “they” increased by 313 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year, Merriam-Webster said. 

GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Representation Nick Adams celebrated the announcement.

“Using the correct pronouns for someone is simply respectful, just like using their name. Merriam-Webster’s choice is the latest example of the growing awareness and acceptance of the fact that gender is not binary, but there is a long road ahead before language, policy, and culture are completely affirming and inclusive,” Adams said in a statement.

The dictionary also announced that “quid pro quo,” a phrase used throughout the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, was also a top search on its website this year. The term was searched 644 percent more than it was last year, according to Merriam-Webster. 

Major spikes in searches for the term happened on dates including Sept. 25, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the formal start of the inquiry. 

The dictionary added that “impeach” was also among the top words of 2019, with a 129-percent increase in searches compared to last year. 

Tags Donald Trump Gender binary LGBTQ Merriam-Webster Nancy Pelosi Pramila Jayapal
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