‘They’ is Merriam-Webster word of the year for 2019

TAMPA FLORIDA- DECEMBER 01 Sam Smith performs onstage during 93.3 FLZ's Jingle Ball 2019 Presented by Capital One at Amalie Arena

A common but increasingly mighty and very busy little word, "they", has an accolade all its own.

Merriam-Webster has announced that the nonbinary pronoun "they" is its 2019 Word of the Year.

Sokolowski says the American Psychological Association recommends "they" be used in professional writing as a singular pronoun for a person instead her or she when the reference is to a person whose gender is unknown or to a person who prefers they.

"We believe writers should try to use a person's self-identified pronoun whenever feasible", said Jasper Simons, chief publishing officer for the APA. "This curiosity is remarkable for a venerable old pronoun, and it's a outcome in of shifts in the way the word "they" is used".

Merriam-Webster said that lookups for they increased by 313% in 2019 over the previous year.

The definition of "they" as a nonbinary pronoun was added to the three other separate definitions of the word in September. Smith said the decision came after a "lifetime of being at war with my gender". Nick Adams, director of transgender representation for the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, said Merriam-Webster's choice is a positive step in acknowledging nonbinary people.

Fox News Flash top headlines for December 10 are here.


In September, the dictionary added this definition to its entry for "they".

Meanwhile, the other words and phrases that rounded out this year's top 10 include quid pro quo, impeach, crawdad, egregious, clemency, the (after The Ohio State University filed a trademark application for the word with the USA patent office), snitty, tergiversation, camp and exculpate.

The company explained that the honor was determined by data pertaining to the word's increased exposure over the course of the year.

"Camp", the theme of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual gala in the spring, also spiked, while "the" trended when The Ohio State University failed attempt to patent the word to protect its turf.

Merriam-Webster's word of the year in 2018 was "justice", while in 2017 it was "feminism", preceded by "surreal" in 2016.

Other Top 10 phrases also included "egregious", "clemency" and "snitty", as mentioned by Attorney General William Barr referencing a letter by Robert Mueller about a summary Barr wrote of the Mueller report.

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