NEW YORK CITY (CNN NEWSOURCE/WIAT) — Merriam-Webster has officially added the nonbinary pronoun “They” to its dictionary.
On Tuesday, representatives from the longtime reference textbook company said the word “they” can be used to refer to a person whose gender identity is nonbinary, meaning they identify as neither male or female.
“There have always been people who didn’t conform to an expected gender expression, or who seemed to be neither male nor female,” the company explained when announcing the addition of the “they” to its dictionary. “But we’ve struggled to find the right language to describe these people—and in particular, the right pronouns.”
The company went on to justify the inclusion of “they” by saying that as far back as the 17th century, English laws regarding inheritance would, on occasion, refer to people who did not fit a gender binary term as “it,” which was created to be the most grammatically-fit answer to gendered pronouns at the time.
“Adopting the already-singular ‘they’ is vastly preferable,” the release stated. “It’s not quite as newfangled as it seems: we have evidence in our files of the nonbinary ‘they’ dating back to 1950, and it’s likely that there are earlier uses of the nonbinary pronoun they out there.”
There are three other separate definitions listed for “they.”
Merriam-Webster has also added 533 new words and meanings to its dictionary. A few examples are “Deep state,” “Dad joke,” and “Colorism.”