Dictionary.com released its annual recognition of a word that represents, and in fact encompasses, so much of what has occured in the past year. That word is: identity.
The word perfectly describes this year’s focus on conversations revolving around gender, race and sexuality, according to the website.
“Our data indicated a growing interest in words related to identity, as people encountered new terms throughout the year based on events tied to gender, sexuality, race, and other key issues,” Liz McMillan, CEO of Dictionary.com said in a statement. “Many words surrounding these topics trended or were newly added to our dictionary this year, making identity the clear front-runner as the Word of the Year.”
Moments like Caitlyn Jenner gracing the cover of Vogue, the swelling of the Black Lives Matter movement and the normalization around conversations regarding identity spurred the addition of terms people use to express concepts of identity.
“As new paradigms of gender and sexual identity enter the mainstream, so too do new linguistic constructs to discuss them,” Dictionary.com explained. “In addition to the Word of the Year selection, today also marks the addition of several new definitions and entries for identity-focused words to Dictionary.com. These include a verb sense of identify that is used in the common construction identify as, and the term code-switching, or the modifying of one’s behavior, appearance, etc., to adapt to different sociocultural norms.”
Here are those new additions paired with their definitions:
Identify: to associate oneself in feeling, interest, action, etc., with a specified group or belief system (usually followed by as or with).
Code-switching: the modifying of one’s behavior, appearance, etc., to adapt to different sociocultural norms.
Gender expression: the external expression of gender roles, as through socially defined behaviors and ways of dressing.
Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on Twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely @mattlee2669.