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Photo: Handout/Getty Images

Merriam-Webster announced updates this week to its dictionary, adding 533 new words and meanings to its inventory, including the use of the word "they" as a singular, nonbinary pronoun.

Why it matters: A growing number of Americans don't identify as male or female and use "they" or "them," rather than traditional pronouns. Some states now allow people to have an "X" on their driver's license, rather than male or female. Merriam-Webster's move also weakens the common argument against the singular "they" — that it is grammatically incorrect.

Details: The new entry for "they" is the fourth sense of the word, "used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary."

Merriam-Webster uses the word in a sentence as an example:

"I knew certain things about … the person I was interviewing.… They had adopted their gender-neutral name a few years ago, when they began to consciously identify as nonbinary — that is, neither male nor female. They were in their late 20s, working as an event planner, applying to graduate school."

For the record: The style guide for NLGJA, the LGBTQ journalists association, defines nonbinary as: "...a person whose gender identity and/or expression is neither male nor female. Nonbinary individuals may identify as somewhere between male and female, or reject a binary categorization of gender altogether."

On the topic of identity, Merriam-Webster also announced a new sense to the word inclusive: “allowing and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (as because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability).”

Some other newly added words:

  • Colorism
  • Deep state
  • Red flag law
  • Escape room
  • Dad joke

Go deeper

Colin Powell dies from COVID complications at 84

Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts

Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, died of complications from COVID-19, his family announced Monday. He was 84.

Driving the news: The Powell family said in a statement that he was fully vaccinated. "We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment."

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP senator calls for senility test for aging leaders

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a physician, told me during an "Axios on HBO" interview that he favors cognition tests for aging leaders of all three branches of government.

Why it matters: Wisdom comes with age. But science also shows that we lose something. And much of the world is now run by old people — including President Biden, 78 ... Speaker Pelosi, 81 ...  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70 ... and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79.

Ina Fried, author of Login
4 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO blames predecessors for manufacturing woes

Axios on HBO

When it comes to Intel's recent manufacturing problems, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger places the blame squarely on his predecessors — many of whom he notes were not engineers deeply steeped in chip technology, as he is.

Why it matters: Gelsinger has announced a broad plan to reinvigorate Intel by doubling down on manufacturing. However, the strategy depends on the venerable semiconductor giant recovering from recent stumbles.