The nonbinary pronoun 'they' has been reportedly named the word of the year by Merriam-Webster dictionary because of its growing usage for non-binary individuals. According to international media reports the American English dictionary revealed that searches for the term have risen by 313 per cent in the last year. It further also added that the definition of 'they' was added to the three other separate definitions of the word in September. The pronoun has also beaten other contenders for the word of the yar including the phrase 'quid pro quo'.
The word ‘they’— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) December 10, 2019
- was looked up 313% more this year than last.
- had a new sense added in September.
- is increasingly common in both public and personal communication.
‘They’ is our 2019 #WordOfTheYear.https://t.co/i7QlIv15M3
While talking to an international media outlet a spokesperson from Merriam-Webster said that English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like 'everyone' or 'someone', and as a consequence 'they' have been used for this purpose for over 600-years. The spokesperson further added that more recently 'they' has also been used to refer to one person whose gender identity is non-binary, a sense that is increasingly common in published, edited text, as well as social media and in daily personal interactions between English speakers.
According to the official site of Merriam-Dictionary, Nonbinary 'they' was also prominent in the news in 2019. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA) revealed earlier this year during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Equality Act that her child is gender-nonconforming and uses 'they'. Singer Sam Smith also announced in September that they now use 'they' and 'them' as pronouns. And the American Psychological Association’s blog has further officially recommended that singular 'they' be preferred in professional writing over “he or she” when the reference is to a person whose gender is unknown or to a person who prefers 'they'.
Similarly, Oxford Dictionaries has reportedly named 'climate emergency' as its word of the year for 2019 further defining it as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it”. According to the reported data of the dictionary, the usage of the word soared 10,796 per cent. The term is the most common compound involving “emergency”, reportedly occurring three times as often as the next most-common, “health-emergency”.