Merriam-Webster Dictionary Adds ‘Genderqueer,’ 'Cisgender' and ‘Gender Neutral’ Title ‘Mx.’

By Lauretta Brown | April 25, 2016 | 12:41pm EDT

( Merriam-Webster, the leading publisher of dictionaries in the United States, added over 2,000 new words and phrases to their unabridged dictionary last week, including the terms "cisgender," "genderqueer," and the gender neutral title "Mx."

The Merriam-Webster definition of cisgender is “of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth.”

Genderqueer is defined as “of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity cannot be categorized as solely male or female.”

“The gender-neutral Mx. is used as a title for those who do not identify as being of a particular gender, or for people who simply don't want to be identified by gender,” according to Merriam-Webster.

The Oxford English Dictionary also added the term “cisgender” last summer.

The addition was praised by the LGBT-activist group Human Rights Campaign, which  noted “Merriam-Webster’s status as a linguistic authority lends legitimacy to these terms. The move helps broaden public understanding of the increasing diversity of words that people within the LGBTQ community use to describe their identities.”

However Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, Peter Sokolowski, told The Atlantic that “the dictionary is not a political document.”

“We’re not defining what a person is,” he explained. “We’re defining what the label used to refer to that person is. We’re describing the word and how it’s used in the language.”

“That’s the gold standard of lexicography: If a word is likely to be encountered by an adult, it’s time for that word to go into the dictionary,” Sokolowski said.

“The fact that it is in the dictionary makes a kind of indisputable fact that they are a kind of cultural reality,” he added, “the fact that these words have been coming up recently is because they’re politically possible.”

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