Cambridge Dictionary Rewrites the Definition Of 'Man' and 'Woman'

The longstanding definitions of man and woman in the Cambridge dictionary have been altered.

By Kavya Pillai

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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The longstanding definitions of man and woman in the Cambridge dictionary have been altered. The updated definition includes people who identify as a gender other than their biological one.

If one were to check the new definition of 'Man', they would read, "an adult who lives and identifies as a male though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth."

Similarly, the definition of woman is altered to, "an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth."

The old definitions are still there that explain that sex and gender identity adhere to one another. The dictionary also gives an example with the new definition of 'Man', "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 example is, "She was the first trans woman elected to a national office" and "Mary is a woman who was assigned male at birth".

"Our editors made this addition to the entry for a 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," said the Cambridge spokesperson.

These revisions did not sit right with netizens, one Twitter user wrote, "The Cambridge Dictionary just changed the definition of "woman." Remember, if you can control the language, you can control the population."

Another user wrote, "1984 wasn't supposed to be a how-to manual".

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