Back in September, the Merriam-Webster dictionary added a new definition of the word “they,” including its use “to refer to a single person whose gender identity is non-binary.”
And now, “they” has just been chosen as Word of the Year for 2019.
The selection is described as “entirely date driven” in Merriam-Webster’s official press release, with the word in question having to show “a significant increase in lookups over the previous year.”
It’s not really a surprise that searches for “they” have gone up, either — back in March, singer Sam Smith opened up about being non-binary during an interview with Jameela Jamil, before going on to change their pronouns to “they/them” in September.
“Pronouns are among the language’s most commonly used words, and like other common words (think go, do, and have) they tend to be mostly ignored by dictionary users,” Merriam-Webster’s senior editor, Emily Brewster, said in a statement.