Gender-neutral ‘they’ named 2019 word of the year

epa07608658 Jonnen Messer of Waldmohr, Germany, uses a large dictionary to study word spellings in between rounds of the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, USA, 28 May 2019. The 92nd year of the Scripps National Spelling Bee features 562 competitors and continues through 30 May 2019. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

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The singular “they” was crowned word of the year for 2019 by Merriam-Webster, the US dictionary announced.

The word “they” is increasingly used as a pronoun for people who identify as nonbinary, meaning their gender identity is a mix of male or female or a rejection of both, as well as for others in the LGBT+ community.

The dictionary, which officially broadened its definition of the word in September, said searches for the word increased by over 300% this year.

US politics dominated the rest of Merriam-Webster’s list of the most-searched words for 2019.

Searches for “quid pro quo,” a Latin phrase meaning “something for something,” spiked this fall during a series of impeachment hearings against US President Donald Trump. “Impeach” was also one of the top words for the US dictionary in 2019, after the US lawmakers from the Democratic party announced the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

The dictionary noted that although “impeach” is frequently thought of as meaning removing for office, it has a much more precise legal definition that means “to charge with a crime or misdemeanor.”

Via DW/ Merriam-Webster

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