The Merriam-Webster online dictionary now recognizes “they” as a personal pronoun.
The site tweeted Tuesday that it had added the pronoun to its online list of definitions for the word.
The dictionary now defines “they,” along with its other uses, as “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.”
The nonbinary pronoun ‘they’ has been added to the dictionary. https://t.co/tadl1VdfB0
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) September 17, 2019
As the Oxford English Dictionary points out, the use of singular “they” has a long history, but its use as a pronoun by people who are non-binary or identify with neither male nor female pronouns is more recent.
One Twitter user thanked singer Sam Smith, who announced last week that they use “they/them” pronouns, for fuelling the move.
It’s unclear what motivated the dictionary to add the pronoun, but it’s a great step!