Incidents driven by news has put the word 'they', a personal pronoun, as the word of the year in Merriam-Webster. 'They' was decided as the word since the increase in its searches in the Merriam-Webster website came up to a 313 percent increase since 2018.
Peter Sokolowski, a lexicographer and Merriam-Webster's editor at large, ahead of Tuesday's announcement said that it was a surprise and so many people were talking about this word. The spikes in the searching of the word came during various points in 2019 according to the Merriam-Webster team. Recently, they added a new definition to the word in its online dictionary to explain the usage of the word to identify any non-binary person.
Positive Recognition for 'they'
In early January, there was an increase in the search for the word after Oslo Grace gained popularity in both the men and women's fashion show around the world. Their non-binary identity made the word popular as they preferred to be addressed using this pronoun.
Yet another spike in the search of the word happened in April as US Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, had an emotional exchange in a House Committee meeting while talking about her child being gender-nonconforming. She has been an advocate of LGBTQ rights legislation.
In September the word reached out to everyone again as Sam Smith announced his pronouns through twitter.
In the long yet right direction
Sokolowski told AP that the pronoun 'they' is one among the handful of non-binary pronouns to emerge and will stay. Nick Adams, director of transgender representation for the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD believes that the Merriam-Webster's acknowledgment of the word is a positive step in the right direction, which is a long road.
The runner-ups were "quid pro quo", "impeach" and "crawdad", the latter being a word in the title of a Delia Evans book.