reference book company Merriam-Webster has added new definition of pronoun "they" to its famous Webster's Dictionary. It now lists word "they" as referring to "single person whose gender identity is non-binary". This will be welcome news for those who identify neither as male nor female - people with non-binary identities. Many institutions have already incorporated gender-neutral option into their official forms. growing number of local governments, schools and airlines have introduced gender choice of "X" to accommodate people who do not consider themselves as male or female, and for gender fluid people who switch between different genders.
Merriam-Webster stated that use of "they" in place of "he" or "she" recognizes people who did not "conform to expected gender expression, or who seemed to be neither male nor female". It added: "We've struggled to find right language to describe these people, and in particular, right pronouns." It points out that word "they" has been used as singular pronoun since late 1300s. William Shakespeare used it in this way in early 17th century. In 1898, playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote in his play Antony and Cleopatra that: "No man goes to battle to be killed....But they do get killed." Merriam-Webster says that today, "nearly everyone uses singular "they" in casual conversation".