Language is getting a necessary update, folks, and Merriam-Webster is here to prove it: “They” has become 2019’s word of the year. So, for all you naysayers who complain about the oh-so-confusing and shockingly incorrect use of “they” instead of the “she” and “he” pronouns, you just got shut down by THE institution in charge of language. AKA the people themselves.

What does “They” mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, ‘They‘ is “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.” And, just in case you’re wondering, “nonbinary” means, “relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male nor entirely female.”

Singer-songwriter Sam Smith recently revealed that they are nonbinary, and this statement, along with many others, influenced “they” becoming the word of the year.

But it’s not just Sam Smith. Plenty of people have come out as gender nonconfirming.

Language evolves. We should too.

The word’s popularity actually spiked by a whopping 313 percent. 

According to Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, “I have to say it’s surprising to me. It’s a word we all know and love. So many people were talking about this word.”

For context, last year’s word of the year was “justice.” 2017’s was “feminism.” It’s really looking like our language is reflecting our ideas, huh?

Even though there are plenty of people who argue “they” is not grammatically correct, the word of the year proves that people don’t need rules or institutions to tell them how to express themselves.

Of course, not everybody (boomers) was on board with this progression.

But most are loving the use of They.

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*First Published: December 11, 2019, 11:11 am