Our View | ‘They’ got it right on Word of the Year

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of the pronoun “they” includes this definition for the provisions of using this word in referring to those who identify as nonbinary.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has selected “they” as the word of 2019. The word they has been used as a singular pronoun by people who identify as nonbinary. 

While some argue that the word “they” is only plural, Merriam-Webster has proclaimed that, “English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like ‘everyone’ or ‘someone’, and as a consequence they has been used for this purpose for over 600 years.” Merriam-Webster also announced the fact that “Lookups for ‘they’ increased by 313 percent in 2019 over the previous year.”

This is a huge step for the LGBTQ+ community. It shows that people who don’t fit into the male and/or female boxes are valid and are on the way to being treated that way by others. The word “they” being the word of the year is empowering to those who use it. Nonbinary individuals have been oppressed and silenced for years so this is a monumental moment for them. 

There is still a long way to go in order for nonbinary people to be treated as equally as cisgender individuals. There are still many aspects of life that are harder for those who don’t use the “normal” pronouns such as representation, job equality, bullying, etc. 

While life is still very difficult for them, this can still be considered a big achievement for the entire community. 

There are several labels that fall in the LGBTQ+ community, but nonbinary has been in the background for a while, despite the fact that numerous people identify with this term. Some examples of famous people who identify as nonbinary are Sam Smith, Indya Moore, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Jonathan Van Ness, and many more who would have been happy to hear about this choice of word of the year.

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