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Merriam-Webster adds three new transgender terms to dictionary update


'It all begins, in each case, with evidence of words in use'

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Merriam-Webster announced recently that it added hundreds of words to its dictionary, including three transgender terms.

Gender nonconforming, top surgery, and bottom surgery were among the 640 words that made it into the April update.

The more than 190-year-old company said that the revision "mirrors the culture's need to make sense of the world with words."

"It all begins, in each case, with evidence of words in use. Each word follows its own path at its own pace before its use is widespread enough to be included in a dictionary," the company explained on its website.

So, what do the LGBTQ terms mean?

The new LGBTQ terms are defined by Merriam-Webster as:

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."

What is the reaction from the LGBTQ community?

Forbes contributor Ashlee Fowlkes, who writes about "LGBTQ inclusion and equality," praised Merriam-Webster for adding the terms to the dictionary.

"The impact of these additions cannot be overstated," Fowlkes wrote in a column on Tuesday. "The actions of the Trump administration have given rise to increased uncertainty in the transgender community.

"And so, in the midst of what might feel like an all-out attack on transgender-related protections, having your existence acknowledged and affirmed by such a well-established entity is invaluable."

Some LGBT groups tweeted the "great news."

What do opponents say?

One Twitter user described the move as a continuation of "the dumbing down of the English language."

What are some of the other additions?

New words for business include, gig economy, and vulture capitalism.

Gig economy "involves the use of temporary or freelance workers to perform jobs typically in the service sector."

And vulture capitalism, which was "first used in the 'greed is good' 1980s," made the cut. It now means "a form of venture capitalism in which aggressive methods are used to buy a distressed business with the intention of selling it at a profit."

There are also new idioms.

For instance, snowflake officially refers to both "someone regarded or treated as unique or special" and "someone who is overly sensitive."

The company extended the word purple to mean "the blending of red and blue to the metaphorical level, purple can now refer to geographical areas where voters are split between Democrats and Republicans."

And Goldilocks, the character from the 1939 fairytale "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," found a place in the addition that astronomers will likely find is "just right." The metaphor refers to "an area of planetary orbit in which temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold to support life."

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