WEALTH AND FAME DO NOT DEFINE SUCCESS. Change the definition and support a great cause.

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WEALTH AND FAME DO NOT DEFINE SUCCESS. Change the definition and support a great cause.

This petition had 103,960 supporters
Strayer University started this petition to Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Sign this petition and you’ll help Strayer prove that the dictionary definition of the word success is too narrow and needs to be expanded. For every signature, we’ll make a donation to Dress for Success®. One petition. Two inspiring causes.

Today, Merriam-Webster defines success as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.”

That means people with happy families aren’t successful. People who love their jobs aren’t successful. People who set and reach goals like becoming healthier, being a mentor, or helping out in their communities aren’t successful.

But we know that simply isn’t true.

The Strayer University Success Project spent two years asking Americans about success, and nine in 10 of them believe it’s more about happiness than power, possessions or prestige.

Reaching goals. Building relationships. Loving what you do for a living. That’s how Americans talk about success. It’s not a reflection of their bank statements, but of their self-fulfillment. So this initiative is about more than words. It’s about recognizing and celebrating the kind of success we want for our children and ourselves: Less about objects and money. More about people and joy.


Every year, the dictionary adds words and alters existing definitions. For example, the words jeggings, meme, photobomb, and emoji were all added this year. Merriam-Webster decides what to add and change after tracking the words people use and how they use them, and their decisions are talked and written about. By agreeing that most of us use a different meaning of the word success, you can help us start a nationwide conversation about what it means to be successful.


Helping working adults find personal fulfillment through education is at the heart of Strayer’s mission. When you sign this petition, not only will you help us to literally change the definition of success in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but Strayer will also make a donation to Dress for Success®, up to a total of $50,000. That way, even if the definition isn’t changed, we’ll still have done something deeply meaningful – helping others to define success for themselves.


About Dress for Success®

Dress for Success® is a global not-for-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools. Since 1997, Dress for Success® has expanded to more than 140 cities in 20 countries and has helped more than 850,000 women work towards self-sufficiency.

About Strayer University

We’ve been educating working adults since 1892. That’s over 120 years of helping people to advance their lives. Today, we offer convenient campuses, evening and weekend courses, and the flexibility to learn online, anytime. We’re also respected, recognized, and accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Our student support and dedication to career-relevant education have helped over 100,000 students succeed in earning their undergraduate and graduate degrees.

About the Research

Our findings stem from a poll conducted by Ipsos for Strayer University from August 5-12, 2014, in which 2,011 Americans ages 18+ were interviewed online. 

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