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Merriam Webster dictionary changing definition of woman *title edited at requ of OP*

(42 Posts)
midclegs Tue 30-Jun-20 20:50:02

Couldn't see this here - even if I'm duplicating things I'm so livid I don't care.

The new definition defines a transwoman as per the attached. Their definition of a trans man follows suit.

We've got to stop this.

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midclegs Tue 30-Jun-20 20:56:32

I have to keep on bumping this - we need some momentum in this please. The TRAs have been gloating at this change.

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LaChatte Tue 30-Jun-20 20:58:05

What's their definition of a woman?

Thesuzle Tue 30-Jun-20 21:01:54

Who is this Merriam Webster person? Absolute tosh isn’t it

gardenbird48 Tue 30-Jun-20 22:06:32

Someone over on tttr said that a woman isn’t a transwoman so a transwoman can’t be a woman. It sounded good at the time but makes less sense now but maybe that is the point? I was mulling over it this afternoon on the way to my smear test (a lovely female lady nurse - phew!) and thought that in the situation where they are trying to allocate Nhs resources for maternity care for example, and in the Nhs Trust area there are 10,000 women of child bearing age and 5000 transwomen identified as women, do they make provision for 15000 potential patients (with the guaranteed waste of 5000 places unused capacity, although obviously not all actual women might decide to get pregnant) or would they have to try and identify by some other means (questionnaire? are you planning/able to get pregnant? Although this would be discriminatory to infertile women and presumably the transwomen?) no idea.... how could they do it?

midclegs Tue 30-Jun-20 22:12:33

@Thesuzle it's not a person - it's the dictionary, sorry, typo.

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EdgeOfACoin Tue 30-Jun-20 22:27:42

Aaarghhh I have just contacted them asking how their definition of a 'trans woman' is 'woman' if their own definition of woman is 'adult female'.

I have asked them for clarification.

TyroSaysMeow Tue 30-Jun-20 22:32:42


If a woman who was identified as male at birth is a "trans woman" then they're effectively redefining people with a particular DSD presentation as trans.

If they'd said "a woman who is male" I'd have somewhat less of an issue with it, although I'd immediately be looking up their entry on "woman" to work out what the hell they think it means, since they obviously don't believe it denotes sex. But intersex advocacy groups have asked repeatedly to be left out of this shitshow, and now the sodding dictionary is getting in on the act, ffs.

Obviously a pretty shoddy dictionary, mind. They're supposed to document existing usage, not prescribe or proscribe it.

OliveKitteridgeAgain Tue 30-Jun-20 22:35:22

I was watching the Spectator discussion between Lionel Shriver and Douglas Murray earlier (that took place last year). One of the things that really resonated with me was Ms Shriver saying that the trans movement's grip on institutions is social insanity and we do not have to cooperate with it. It nearly made me cry hearing her say that. We do not have to cooperate with this bullshit.

OvaHere Tue 30-Jun-20 22:37:13

It makes no sense

A transwoman is a woman who was identified as male at birth

What is a woman?

A woman is an adult human female

What is a man?

A man is an adult human male

What is a male?

A male is of the sex that can produce sperm - see also man

What is a female?

A female is of the sex that can produce ova - see also woman

So if you follow this logical a transwoman is defined as producing both sperm and ova.

This is what happens when you start off with a big lie and end up in a spiral of having to tell more lies to justify the first lie.

midclegs Tue 30-Jun-20 23:55:00

A dictionary is re-defining what it is to be a woman yet the trending post on MN is about Glinner.

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ErrolTheDragon Wed 01-Jul-20 00:11:30

* Who is this Merriam Webster person?*

One of the main US dictionaries.

* A dictionary is re-defining what it is to be a woman*

They don't appear to have done that (yet...) - they've just defined 'trans woman' in a way that makes no logical sense. Lexicographers reflect usage so I suppose that an illogical definition isn't entirely their fault. Collins has a similar definition. (which I think is an online version of the oxford dictionary) still has 'A male-to-female transsexual.' Which is clear, and more readily understood by anyone who might actually need to look it up, I'm slightly surprised they haven't changed 'transsexual' to some sort of 'gender' term by now.

Thinkingabout1t Wed 01-Jul-20 00:16:40

Aaarghhh I have just contacted them asking how their definition of a 'trans woman' is 'woman' if their own definition of woman is 'adult female'. I have asked them for clarification.

Excellent! I'd love to read their answer as they try to wriggle out of the corner they've brainlessly painted themselves into. But please don't hold your breath, EdgeOfACoin. Ignoring critics or even questions is standard practice for organisations that know they're in the wrong. Shame that Merriam-Webster is -- or I thought it was -- a reputable dictionary.

EdgeOfACoin Wed 01-Jul-20 06:20:44

Maybe if enough people contact them they will think twice about messing with definitions in future. At least if they want to preserve their reputation as a credible publication.

Merriam Webster is the American equivalent of the OED (I believe). It's not some little guide to obscure urban slang.

They've done something similar with 'trans man' I think, though, so at least they're not discriminating confused

I, too, am quite surprised this thread has not received more traction.

midclegs Wed 01-Jul-20 22:28:26

Bump - still don't understand why nobody seems to be bothered by this. The dictionary has defined a transwoman who as a male baby identified as a woman?!

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Dicotyledon Wed 01-Jul-20 23:46:52

I wrote to collins about their school dictionary/thesaurus which said that female was the gender that...

They apologised when I said the word was sex. But schools are full of these incorrect dictionaries.

NotAGirl Wed 01-Jul-20 23:59:40

I'm horrified at a dictionary going along with this

littlbrowndog Thu 02-Jul-20 00:03:30

Me too. It’s just bonkers

How can a baby identify as anything

TinyPigeon Thu 02-Jul-20 00:06:13

Hahaha. Define a woman then OP winkgrin

upsidedownbuttercat Thu 02-Jul-20 00:17:26

This is appalling. I take comfort in the fact, however, that even if these new definitions make it into dictionaries, they can't get rid of the old ones - the word "woman" has been used billions of times in writing to mean adult human female since time began and if we can't burn all those books and delete all those webpages the meaning has to be recorded.

RosieHen Thu 02-Jul-20 00:17:27

A transwoman is a woman who was identified as male at birth

This makes it sound as if rather a lot of midwives and doctors are making schoolboy errors in the delivery room

Utter lunacy

DancelikeEmmaGoldman Thu 02-Jul-20 02:24:19

It’s a mistake to think dictionaries are neutral observers of language - they reflect, even in subtle ways, the culture which produces them.

In this case what appears to be a deliberate obfuscation is a reflection of the ways in which language is being manipulated.

The definition is not meaningful and not useful, which tells us quite a lot about the publishers and the culture.

ItsLateHumpty Thu 02-Jul-20 03:34:05

I thought I remembered an earlier thread re definitions, and I did!

It was Wiki we were talking about a year ago this month, and I notice how we were sure that it was only Wiki and they were woke and dictionary’s would never be so dull.

Guess we were wrong.

Slightly off topic now so this was just me digging around after re-reading the old thread.

The first post stated “UK Equality Act 2010 defines the two sexes thus:
Man is a male of any age
Woman is a female of any age.”

So I went to to try and find their current definitions. It’s not obvious, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.


In relation to the protected characteristic of sex—
(a)a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a man or to a woman;

(b)a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons of the same sex

Section 11: Sex


54.This section is a new provision which explains that references in the Act to people having the protected characteristic of sex are to mean being a man or a woman, and that men share this characteristic with other men, and women with other women.

Section 7: Gender reassignment


41.This section defines the protected characteristic of gender reassignment for the purposes of the Act as where a person has proposed, started or completed a process to change his or her sex. A transsexual person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.
42.The section also explains that a reference to people who have or share the common characteristic of gender reassignment is a reference to all transsexual people. A woman making the transition to being a man and a man making the transition to being a woman both share the characteristic of gender reassignment, as does a person who has only just started out on the process of changing his or her sex and a person who has completed the process.

43.This section replaces similar provisions in the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 but changes the definition by no longer requiring a person to be under medical supervision to come within it.

A person who was born physically male decides to spend the rest of his life living as a woman. He declares his intention to his manager at work, who makes appropriate arrangements, and she then starts life at work and home as a woman. After discussion with her doctor and a Gender Identity Clinic, she starts hormone treatment and after several years she goes through gender reassignment surgery. She would have the protected characteristic of gender reassignment for the purposes of the Act.

A person who was born physically female decides to spend the rest of her life as a man. He starts and continues to live as a man. He decides not to seek medical advice as he successfully ‘passes’ as a man without the need for any medical intervention. He would have the protected characteristic of gender reassignment for the purposes of the Act.

Lamahaha Thu 02-Jul-20 05:15:14

That's why the space is so important. Trans woman means a woman who is trans. Transwoman means transwoman = not a woman. By listing it as two words the dictionary is ready including transwoman in the definition of what a woman is.

ThinEndoftheWedge Thu 02-Jul-20 17:05:12

This is incredible that wordsmiths can debunk words with such illogical gymnastics. Clearly the thought police of 1984 or the red book is their real dictionary.

Trans woman means a woman who is trans. Transwoman means transwoman = not a woman.

I did not know that.

I thought MiT wanted trans woman (space) so they (male) were - in their minds- comparative to women I.e white woman, small woman etc. Not

I thought they objected to Transwoman because it is distinctly different to woman not that it meant a trans identifying female. As a compound word it means something else - hotdog - not a dog

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