Dictionary.com declares 'Allyship' the 2021 word of the year

On Monday, December 6, Dictionary.com announced that they had selected the newly added word as their pick of the year.

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As 2021 draws to a close, ‘Allyship’ has become the word of the year for Dictionary.com.

“The vastness of such a year could never be fully summarised with a single word,” reads a statement on the dictionary website. “But there is one word that’s intertwined with so many of the things we’ve experienced in 2021: allyship, our 2021 Word of the Year.”

This is a first for the online dictionary, as the chosen word was only just added to its database earlier this year. Nevertheless, its root, ‘ally’, was among the top 850 searched terms, bringing the site “an influx of users throughout 2020 and 2021,” according to Gay Times.

“It might be a surprising choice for some,” said John Kelly, director of content and education for Dictionary.com. “In the past few decades, the term has evolved to take on a more nuanced and specific meaning. It is continuing to evolve and we saw that in many ways.”

While typically the word ‘allyship’ is used in reference to the LGBTQ+ or Black communities, 2021 also saw the use of the term extend to frontline workers during the pandemic, as reported by Dictionary.com.


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“This year, we saw a lot of businesses and organisations very prominently, publicly, beginning efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. Allyship is tied to that. In the classroom, there is a flashpoint around the term critical race theory. Allyship connects with this as well.”

Dictionary.com defines ‘allyship’ as “the status or role of a person who advocates and actively works for the inclusion of marginalised or politicised group in all areas of society, not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view and under its leadership.”

The digital dictionary said in a statement, “While we must acknowledge that efforts at allyship are all too often insufficient and imperfect, the word nonetheless stands out for its role in the path out of the continued crises of 2020 for a better 2022.”

This news follows just weeks after the French dictionary added the gender-neutral pronoun ‘iel’ to their pages, as a third-person pronoun in the singular form that could refer to a person of any gender.  This pronoun has become popularly used within the LGBTQ+ community of France in recent years.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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