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Merriam-Webster Listed a Gender-Neutral Pronoun As Early As the 1930s

Open book dictionary

When Merriam-Webster isn’t trolling public officials over grammatical and spelling errors (we’re looking at you, Mr. President), the dictionary marker shares insightful looks into the history of modern American English—including gender diversity.

Merriam-Webster tweeted Thursday a picture from Webster’s Second edition, dated 1934. The edition included a definition for the word “thon.” The pronoun was meant to be a third-person genderless personal pronoun, a contraction of “that one.”

“Thon” was later removed from subsequent editions of the dictionary.

The dictionary has become a welcome ally of sorts for the LGBTQ community, willingly adding terms like “genderfluid” and others with accepting and understanding definitions. The acceptance of these terms has given a sense of validation to many in the LGBTQ community.

Too bad more words like “thon” couldn’t have stuck around. While it may not roll of the tongue, it’s certainly no better or worse than “ze.” 

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