Dictionary.com is finally woke

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OK, it's only dictionary.com, but there was some big news in the word world today: the popular online dictionary search destination added new words to their vocabulary.


There were some fun ones, like "manspreading," the internet's favorite way to describe a rude man on public transportation, or "lumbersexual," which apparently refers to a man who dresses like a lumberjack. But in its 300-word update, dictionary.com made a move to capture the language of mainstream social justice.

Among the more notable entries, courtesy of dictionary.com:

intersectionality: the theory that the overlap of various social identities, as race, gender, sexuality, and class, contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual.

misgender: to refer to or address (a person, especially one who is transgender) with a pronoun, noun, or adjective that inaccurately represents the person's gender or gender identity.

woke: actively aware of systemic injustices and prejudices, especially those related to civil and human rights.

“Many of the new word additions are tied to larger cultural conversations, from current political events to slang,” Liz McMillan, the CEO of Dictionary.com, said in statement. “Whether it’s the latest health crisis or a new abbreviated word, these definitions reflect the evolving curiosity of our user base and demonstrate the extent to which consumers turn to Dictionary.com to keep pace with the latest news and popular vernacular.”

If you frequent the internet (or fusion.net), these words (or their modified definitions) will not strike you as particularly novel. But mainstream acceptance, even on an internet dictionary, is a tiny step for progress.

Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.