'They' selected as word of the year by Merriam-Webster
© Getty

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 JayapalPramila JayapalAngst grips America's most liberal city Congress must lower the Medicare Age to save the lives of older Americans House Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate MORE'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 TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE, 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 PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (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.