When we think of people/companies choosing words of the year, we often think of new, often or rarely used words.  Their last three words of the year were Justice, Feminism and Surreal.

We do not think of a word such as “they”.

Well that word “they”, the personal pronoun, is exactly the word that Merriam-Webster has declared their word of the year.  They based their choice on a 313% increase in look-ups on the company’s search site, Merriam-Webster.com, this year over last year.  Really, who is looking up the definition of “they”?

Well Merriam-Webster informs us of a possible reason for such a spike of 313% and it all has to do with transgenderism.  They stated a spike occurred when back in April 

U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, “got emotional while talking of her gender-nonconforming child during a House committee hearing as she advocated for LGBTQ rights legislation”.  There was another bump in look-ups in September for the. Word “they” when pop star Sam Smith wrote on social media that their preferred pronouns were “they” and “them.” Smith said the decision came after a “lifetime of being at war with my gender.”

Because of that Merriam-Webster added a new definition of “they” to its online dictionary.  They believe the word “they” should be used when relating to a person whose gender identity is nonbinary. By the way nonbinary means “relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male nor entirely female”.  Then in October, the American Psychological Association endorsed the personal pronoun “they” as a singular third-person pronoun in its latest style guide for scholarly writing.

The word “they” beat the following words:

  • quid pro quo
  • impeach
  • crawdad
  • egregious
  • clemency
  • the
  • snitty
  • camp
  • exculcate

Congratulations to the word "they", you deserve it for apparently being the unsung hero for all these years.

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