The Merriam-Webster dictionary—that reliable source for simple, straightforward linguistics—has released its 2019 Word of the Year, an annual trend since 2003. Only, I hate to break it to you, the word is “they.”
“They,” you say? As in, “They looked up the word ‘they’ in the Webster dictionary?”
No, not that kind of “they.” That’s just a plural pronoun. Webster specifies that this new “they” is being used to refer to a single person when the gender is unknown. It’s also used “to refer to one person whose gender identity is nonbinary.”
Webster added this definition to the word in September. After taking a poll of its online readers and witnessing a spike in online searches for the word—searches for “they” increased by 313% in 2019—Webster decided “they” should be the Word of the Year.
Are you surprised this company would do this?