The pronoun “they” is Merriam-Webster’s 2019 Word of the Year. The dictionary’s winning word is selected based on online search popularity: it must be a top lookup over the last 12 months and reflect an increase in searches as compared to the previous year. Merriam-Webster reports that searches for “they” rose by 313% in 2019 over the previous year.
In September, the dictionary expanded its definition of the pronoun, adding a new entry to encompass its growing usage as a singular pronoun “where the antecedent is a gender-nonconforming individual or one who does not identify as male or female.” Merriam-Webster’s official recognition of this acceptation is an affirmation for the many who continue to face discrimination and harassment because of their gender identity.
In an article on its website, Merriam-Webster explains that lookups often spike along with a word’s appearance in the news cycle; unsurprisingly, “they,” was closely followed by runner-ups “quid pro quo” and “impeach” this year. Merriam-Webster cites Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s powerful announcement that her child is gender-nonconforming and goes by the pronoun “they” during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Equality Act in April. The dictionary’s statement also references the fluidity of language, noting that the word “you” was initially plural and can still be used in that context.
But this year’s winner proves that “even a basic term — a personal pronoun — can rise to the top of our data,” says Merriam-Webster. The Word of the Year mirrors our constantly-evolving uses of language as well as important cultural and social phenomena.
The last few years at the museum have not been without controversy, and Decatur will inherit a record of workforce struggles.
Refugees of the Moria camp in Lesvos, Greece are behind the camera in the film Nothing About Us Without Us.
This adventurous theater festival returns in person with 36 artists and companies from nine countries performing at different venues across the city.
Helen Molesworth’s true-crime sensation marginalizes the artist’s life and legacy.
Members of NatSoc Florida performed the Nazi salute and chanted “Heil Hitler” at a local LGBTQ+ charity’s fundraiser in Lakeland.
Learn more about the New York-based, globally linked program and its upcoming discussions on art and society in the time of AI and data governance.
Nothing on the canvas wholly captures what it means to belong on land or at sea.
Dyson is part of a growing number of contemporary artists to imbue geometric abstraction with a sociopolitical dimension.
The program, along with recently announced visiting critics, will provide long term funding, promote access, and safeguard experimentation for future students of color.
In an exhibition that consists of mostly small-scale black and white works on paper, viewer engagement almost magically awakens the sleepy room.
Maria Maea’s All in Time continues an intergenerational conversation and exemplifies the artist’s process, not simply the finished pieces.
Koestler Arts works with incarcerated people and patients in secure mental health units, aiming to improve their lives through creativity.
Local artists and culture workers are wondering how the arena will impact the arts landscape, including museums and alternative spaces.