'Non-binary' officially recognised by Collins Dictionary after 'year of changes'

7 November 2019, 00:59

Sam Smith asked fans to refer to them using they/them pronouns earlier this year
Sam Smith asked fans to refer to them using they/them pronouns earlier this year. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Collins Dictionary has recognised the word "non-binary", whilst also naming "climate strike" as its Word of the Year 2019.

The additions mark a year in which singer-songwriter Sam Smith came out as non-binary and 16-year-old Greta Thunberg launched a global environmental movement.

The dictionary said it added the term "non-binary" in recognition of "changes in how people relate to each other and define themselves".

A person who identifies as non-binary does not define themselves exclusively as masculine or feminine and generally prefers they or them pronouns, rather than he or she.

Collins defines non-binary, which can also be spelled nonbinary, as "relating to a gender or sexual identity that does not conform to the binary categories of male or female, heterosexual or homosexual".

Climate Strike has been named Word Of The Year following Greta Thunberg's activism
Climate Strike has been named Word Of The Year following Greta Thunberg's activism. Picture: PA

Pop star Smith came out as non-binary this year, sparking a debate over gender and sexuality, and was among the first celebrities to ask the public to refer to them using they/them pronouns.

Other stars who identify as non-binary include Me Too campaigner Rose McGowan, Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness, drag queen Courtney Act and musician Grimes.

LGBT charity Stonewall's director of campaigns Laura Russell hailed the move to recognise the term.

She told said: "It's great that Collins will officially be adding non-binary to their dictionary.

"Non-binary people have always existed in every community, so it's important more organisations and people use language that includes everyone and recognises who they are."

Climate strikes are part of a snowballing movement sparked by Thunberg's school strikes outside the Swedish parliament.

The term was first registered by Collins' lexicographers in November 2015 when the first event of its kind took place during the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

The term was used on average 100 times more in 2019 than the previous year.

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