Merriam-Webster dictionary announced recently that it has chosen the word ‘they‘ as its Word of the Year for 2019.
Recently, the dictionary also added a new definition of the word ‘they’: it can now be used as a singular personal pronoun for non-binary people. This gender-neutral pronoun can now be used rather than the pronouns ‘he’ or ‘she.’
Earlier, in September 2019, the Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Sam Smith confirmed on Instagram that the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’ can be used for non-binary people.
Interestingly, the searches for the pronoun ‘they’ on the website of Merriam-Webster’s were 313 per cent higher this year than last.
As Merriam-Webster writes, “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.”
The other words that were searched for often were this year were:
Quid pro quo: This means “something given or received for something else” and the literal translation from New Latin is “something for something.” This word was used often in relation to the investigations of the US President Trump’s phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart in which he allegedly asked for the latter to investigate his political opponent Joe Biden.
Impeach: This word means “to charge with a crime or misdemeanor” and “to cast doubt on.”
Egregious, clemency, camp, and exculpate were all included in the top 10 most searched words for 2019.
The words that have previously been judged ‘Word of the Year’ have been:
- 2018: Justice
- 2017: Feminism
- 2016: Surreal
- 2015: -ism
- 2014: Culture
- 2013: Science
- 2012: Socialism
- 2011: Pragmatic
- 2010: Austerity
- 2009: Admonish
- 2008: Bailout
How many words’ meanings do you know? Do let us know in the comments section below.