The language mavens at Merriam-Webster have declared the personal pronoun “they” their word of the year based on a 313 percent increase in look-ups on the company’s search site, Merriam-Webster.com, this year when compared with 2018. “They” got an early start last January with the rise of model Oslo Grace on top fashion runways. The Northern Californian identifies as transgender nonbinary, walking in both men’s and women’s shows around the world.
Another look-up spike occurred in April, when U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, got emotional while talking of her gender-nonconforming child during a House committee hearing as she advocated for LGBTQ rights legislation. In September, Merriam-Webster experienced another big increase in look-ups for “they”when pop star Sam Smith wrote on social media that their preferred pronouns were “they” and “them.”