Merriam-Webster Dictionary Added More Than 640 New Words, Including Trans-Inclusive Terminology

“The English language never sleeps, and neither does the dictionary.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary is getting a modern update. According to the organization’s website, more than 640 words were added to the dictionary this month, including a few transgender-specific terms.

“Bottom surgery” and “top surgery” are now both a permanent part of proper vocabulary, as well as “gender nonconforming.” According to the dictionary, all three terms have been around since the early ’90s—”gender nonconforming” was first used in 1991, “top surgery” in 1992, and “bottom surgery” in 1994.

“A release of new entries is a chance to take stock of how our language is growing as well as a moment for true word lovers to stan for favorite new words,” Merriam-Webster noted in a statement on their website, “and to learn more about them, today is definitely not the time to unplug.”

The new trans-inclusive terminology is listed under “new words for science and medicine” and is listed on the website using the following definitions:

Gender nonconforming: exhibiting behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits that do not correspond with the traits typically associated with one’s sex.

Top surgery: a type of gender confirmation surgery in which a person’s breasts are removed or augmented to match their gender identity.

Bottom surgery: a type of gender confirmation surgery in which a person’s genitalia are altered to match their gender identity.

The press release from Merriam-Webster also gives a look into just what goes into adding a word to the dictionary.

“It all begins, in each case, with evidence of words in use,” the organization notes on its website. “Each word follows its own path at its own pace before its use is widespread enough to be included in a dictionary. We watch as words move from specialized contexts to more general use and we make citations for each word in order to draft our definitions.”

This is not the first time Merriam-Webster has updated its dictionary to incorporate LGBTQ+-inclusive terminology. In 2018, the organization included “pansexual” in their words of the year. Hopefully, this is just the first of many steps in the right direction of ensuring all identities are represented in our language and in the dictionary.


What Do You Think?