Last Updated on December 11, 2019
Merriam-Webster has declared the non-binary pronoun ‘they’ their word of the year.
The decision was made following a massive rise in searches for the word against the previous year.
Many high profile public figures, such as singer Sam Smith, have openly identified as ‘non-binary.’
Others have thrown the term around openly, etching the pronoun into public consciousness.
The pronoun has witnessed a tremendous burst in popularity; before Trump’s election, the pronoun was relatively confined–mostly to small internet and social media communities.
Now, it has become mainstreamed.
Various social media users display their ‘preferred pronouns’ on their bios partly in solidarity with those who identify as trans or non-binary, and partly to alert potential future social engagements of how they’d like to be addressed.
According to The BBC:
Searches for “they” on Merriam-Webster’s website were 313% higher this year than they were in 2018.
On the use of pronouns, Smith said: “I understand there will be many mistakes and misgendering, but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now.”
Models Oslo Grace and Ayesha Tan Jones have both come out as non-binary.
In the last few years, Merriam-Webster’s words of the year have been:
The BBC reports that other runners-up to word of the year include words surrounding Trump’s ongoing impeachment hearings such as “impeach” and “quid pro quo.”
UK theaters have recently attempted to drop the timeless “ladies and gentlemen” announcement, preferring a non-binary alternative.