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Change Merriam-Webster's Definition of Queer

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Definition of Queer on Merriam-Webster

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary currently defines the term queer as "(1) sexually attracted to members of the same sex: homosexual, gay; (2) of, relating to, or used by homosexuals: gay". It is listed under the words often disparaging + offensive within the second cluster of definitions.

There is a note on the usage of the term queer that states "The older, strongly pejorative use has certainly not vanished, but a use by some gay people and some academics as a neutral or even positive term has established itself". While this is true, the word has developed a more complex meaning that encompasses people of more identities. 

In both academia and intersectional feminist circles, the word queer is better defined by the current Wikipedia definition: "an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual and/or not cisgender". It is used by all people in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, not just people who identify as gay as the Merriam-Webster definition suggests. 

Why does the definition matter?

The website describes itself as "America's most trusted online dictionary for English word definitions, meanings, and pronunciation", with #wordsmatter included. Words do matter, and people across the world trust that Merriam-Webster's definitions are accurate and up-to-date.

By changing the current 2d definition of queer to more accurately reflect its meaning, Merriam-Webster can demonstrate its commitment to providing current and relevant definitions. We suggest the definition that Wikipedia currently uses.

Changing the definition will also empower the queer community. We do not all identify as gay, and we are more diverse and inclusive than the current definition suggests. 

Help the queer community reclaim the word and inform readers everywhere about who we are!


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