In a bid to include people who identify as a gender other than their biological sex, the Cambridge Dictionary has updated its definitions of ‘woman’ and ‘man’. The new meanings now include anyone who “identifies as female” or “identifies as male” regardless of their sex at birth.
According to the dictionary, a man is “an adult who lives and identifies as male though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth”. Whereas, a woman is “an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth”.
Along with the definition, the dictionary also gave two examples to explain the meanings. For ‘man’, the examples read: “Mark is a trans man (= a man who was said to be female when they were born)” and “Their doctor encouraged them to live as a man for a while before undergoing surgical transition”.
For ‘woman’, the examples are: “She was the first trans woman elected to a national office” and “Mary is a woman who was assigned male at birth”.
Speaking about these updates, a Cambridge Dictionary spokesperson told The Telegraph, “Our editors made this addition to the entry for woman in October. They carefully studied usage patterns of the word woman and concluded that this definition is one that learners of English should be aware of to support their understanding of how the language is used. The first definition at the entry for woman remains unchanged and continues to be ‘an adult female human being’.”
Prior to this, Merriam-Webster added a supplementary definition of ‘female’ as “having a gender identity that is the opposite of male” in July this year.
Following the changes, several people took to social media to criticise this move by Cambridge Dictionary.
The Cambridge Dictionary just changed the definition of “woman.” Remember, if you can control the language, you can control the population.
— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) December 13, 2022
“Try and tell me they’re not trying to erase women. Cambridge dictionary has changed the definition of a woman. This cannot be accepted. We will not be erased. Woman = adult human female. Not someone who ‘identifies as female’,” a user tweeted.
Cambridge Dictionary has changed it’s definition of WOMAN to include “an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth”.
Dictionaries are fast becoming as fluid and reliable as Wikipedia.
Newspeak is here. pic.twitter.com/oIKP9dwxXW
— Jenkins (@sir_jenky) December 12, 2022
Another wrote: “It’s mad how people think they can just change dictionary definitions to suit an unpopular ideology. Women have not been asked if they’re okay with being erased like this. Anyway. Cambridge Dictionary now says the word ‘WOMAN’ means ‘men’ & that the word ‘Female’ is offensive.”
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