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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

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.