Merriam-Webster’s updates “they” definition to include nonbinary individuals

The addition is one of over 530 new words announced.

September 17, 2019
Merriam-Webster’s updates “they” definition to include nonbinary individuals Joanne K. Watson/Merriam-Webster via Getty Images

Merriam-Webster's announced over 530 new words to be added to the pages of its dictionary on Tuesday. Among them are an updated definition of "they" to include nonbinary individuals.

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From the press release: "They [has been] expanded to include this sense: 'used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.'" The new definition is one of several under the category of "race and identity," which Merriam-Webster's says is meant to "address the complex ways we view ourselves and others and how we all fit in."

Some other new words in this category are "colorism" ("prejudice or discrimination especially within a racial or ethnic group favoring people with lighter skin over those with darker skin") and an expansion of "inclusive" ("allowing and accommodating people who have historically been excluded as because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability)."

Last week, Sam Smith revealed they had changed their pronouns to "they/them," writing on Instagram: "After a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out."

Merriam-Webster’s updates “they” definition to include nonbinary individuals