THE GENDER-NEUTRAL PRONOUN “THEY,” which has been exploding in usage and acceptance, is the American Dialect Society’s Word of the Decade and Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year. The ADS Word of the Year was “(my) pronouns,” an expression in which someone tells you how they want to be known.
The end of every year brings retrospectives on language from many dictionary editors and word aficionados. Their selections are made on different criteria: some use the data of how often the words were looked up, and some go deeper and look at cultural and linguistic influences. ADS does the latter: By selecting both “they” and “(my) pronouns” to end the 2010s, ADS sends a strong signal of the importance of a fuller range of gender identity.