Merriam-Webster, the popular dictionary website announced ‘They’ as its 2019 word of the year on Tuesday.
The singular pronoun ‘they’ is used to refer to a person whose gender identity is non-binary, it is used in the place of pronouns he and she which are specifically assigned to male and female pronouns. Webster had included the non-binary pronoun ‘they’ in its world-acclaimed dictionary in September.
English singer-songwriter Sam Smith had embraced the pronoun ‘they’ publicly around the same time. The website had said that the search for the word ‘the6y’ had increased 300% in 2019 as more and more people were coming out and identifying themselves as gender non-binary.
The website also acknowledged that the use of ‘they’ as a sing7ular pronoun is not new, it is being used since the late 14th century. The English language is pretty restrictive in terms of gender inclusivity and people from the queer community are now working on reclaiming language.
The website wrote, “English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like everyone or someone, and as a consequence, ‘they’ has been used for this purpose for over 600 years.”
The website did not officially name the second most searched word or a runner-up for the word of the year 2019 but did say that search for the phrase ‘quid pro quo’ increased 644% from last year.
The phrase ‘quid pro quo’ is translated to ‘something for something’. It is a Latin phrase and is defined by the dictionary as ‘something given or received for something else’ and as ‘a deal arranging a quid pro quo.’