Merriam Webster takes on Legislative and Judicial Powers Unilaterally Declaring Homosexual “Marriage” in New Definition


Dic⋅tion⋅ar⋅y: (n.)

Subversive tool for forcing social change

If you go by the book, the controversy over the definition of marriage has now ended.  Rather than wait for the country to work out it’s course on marriage, Webster has stuck the proverbial finger in the wind and decided for us.

Webster has now added the words:  “the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage”  to the definition of marriage.

What is Webster’s thinking?  Perhaps they are tired of pouring over the same old dusty volumes of accurate definitions….perhaps they want to run for office? Why weigh in on this hot a topic if not to throw the fight by leveraging the substantial influence of a professional dictionary in the word wars?

In my book, a dictionary is something you can rely on for accurate definitions. Not the latest opinion piece. Leave that to the Op-Ed section.

See this response from Webster reported at the WorldNetDaily:

“We often hear from people who believe that we are promoting – or perhaps failing to promote – a particular social or political agenda when we make choices about what words to include in the dictionary and how those words should be defined,” associate editor Kory Stamper wrote in response.

“We hear such criticism from all parts of the political spectrum. We’re genuinely sorry when an entry in – or an omission from – one of our dictionaries is found to be offensive or upsetting, but we can’t allow such considerations to deflect us from our primary job as lexicographers.”

Lexicographers?  Since when is changing the timeless definition of marriage congruent with any type of scientific word analysis?

Merriam Webster is counting on name recognition to pull off this subversive societal swindle, but there are always consequences to reputation.  Trading in their chips of reliability and accuracy for political power and societal influence is a risky scheme.

This transparent attempt to sway public opinion to align with their liberal agenda reaches beyond the bounds of plausibility.  In my scrabble happy family, this is a mortal mistake.

—Beetle Blogger



  1. Delirious said,

    March 19, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Maybe we should suggest they come up with a different word for same sex marriage…they can add definitions, why not whole new words?

  2. March 19, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Since a mortal mistake is usually something like assuming the Trojan Horse was just a thoughtful going away present, i’m a little confused.

  3. SeptemberEyes said,

    March 19, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    This actually makes me happy. Just like the article says, if you technically go by the book, marriage now includes same-sex marrige which takes away a part of the argument on the side that against gay marriage and gay rights. I’m glad that Webster is puting their name on the line for such a controversial issue. I will definetly have to buy a new dictionary now, just for the sake of that definition.

  4. beetlebabee said,

    March 19, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    While it may be nice for gay activists, the reality is that the definition of the word marriage has to be whacked off at the knees in order to apply to gay marriage. You have to divorce the word Marriage from procreation, gender and family in order for it to fit the gay agenda. All that’s left is sexual desire which can be had with anyone or anything. Sex by itself is not marriage. Merriam Webster has done a disservice to the word, the institution and to the family by promoting this charade.

  5. FullWithFaith said,

    March 20, 2009 at 4:02 am

    This change in the dictionary was made in 2003.
    Did I miss something new?

  6. beetlebabee said,

    March 20, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    FWF, that only underscores the politicization of the Merriam Webster dictionary. Six years ago, same sex “marriage” wasn’t legal anywhere in the United States. Even now only two states have same sex “marriage”, and that isn’t by popular demand, but by judicial fiat. The fact that it’s come to light now is irrelevant, the fact is, the change was made and did not reflect an accurate definition either then or now.

  7. March 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Merriam-Webster may itself be American, but as an English language publication it serves, in essence, any English-speaking person, culture or country. The United States is not the only one of those countries, of course. South Africa, for instance, is English-speaking and allows same-sex marriage (under the name “civil partnership” or “marriage partnership”).

  8. March 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    In fact, an English dictionary only reflects words as they are commonly used by English speakers. For example, “flammable”. “Inflammable” means “capable of being easily ignited and of burning quickly”, and “flammable” was never a word. So many people errantly used “flammable” in place of “inflammable” that “flammable” was entered into the dictionary.

    This does not reflect some sort of conspiracy against “inflammable” or the proper usage of the word. Dictionaries simply reflect how words are being used in the common parlance.

  9. March 20, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    That’s a good point, Personal Failure. It’s one of the biggest ways English is separated from French, a language in many ways similar to ours. The French language, however, is literally governed by a body of scholars who are in charge of officially sanctioning or denying any new word or new usage of a preexisting word. It’s one of the reasons slang is such a force in French society in quite a different way than it is in English-speaking societies.

    Anyway, a bit off the point, but figured I’d throw it out there.

  10. March 20, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I remember reading about some dustup in France regarding slang and English expressions, but I didn’t really completely understand it. Now it makes sense. Thank you!

  11. March 20, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    French is very peculiar that way, and there is a large contingent of the French-speaking academic world which argues that French is in danger of becoming a dying language if the language isn’t officially opened up. It’s an interesting prospect to consider.

  12. March 20, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Aren’t there enough French-speakers (in Quebec, France, and portions of Africa) that French isn’t likely to die out, even if it is rather oddly frozen in time? Or do Quebec and African French speakers not count as French speakers?

  13. March 20, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    It was a bit of a hyperbolic claim, yes, but when French Academia speaks of “the language” they’re considering it at only the most esoteric level. If it were up to them, for instance, when Shakespeare had been writing (had he been writing in French), many of his plays would neeeever have attained the level of popularity they did, because they contained so many made up words. (Speaking of eminent playwrights, Moliere was a member of l’Academie.) So when one considers how much popular literature and theatre can affect us and form us as human beings – in a trickle down sort of way – there is a risk of a language stagnating, theoretically, if it is unnaturally held in one spot for too long.

  14. March 20, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    That was mostly my reaction to the article, and perhaps why I felt like I wasn’t understanding it. As much as things like “flammable” and “infer” and “imply” having the same meaning bothers me, it is delightful to me the way language grows and changes.

    I even enjoy that new, crazy internet lingo. You know, lollerskatez!!1!!

  15. March 20, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Webster has made a mistake here. The attempted union of same sex couples is not a marriage.

    I think the definition they have given has been put in the wrong spot. It should be under “gay marriage” not “marriage”. The very definition they have given actually says that it is like a marriage. It doesn’t say that it is a marriage. Therefore it should be under its own heading.

    Same sex marriage is impossible anyway. Marriage is a part of our human nature and we can’t change human nature and redefine it. We could lie to ourselves and call it marriage but same sex unions will never correspond to what marriage actually is, an integration of the sexes with the possibility of conceiving children.

  16. Pearl said,

    March 20, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    I think Beetle and Secular Heretic make a good point. This isn’t just about the evolution of language and a dictionary wisely adapting to that evolution. The inclusion of a same-sex specification to the definition of marriage in MW, is Dictionary Activism just like the CA Supreme Court May 2008 legalization of homosexual “marriage” was Judicial Activism and just like the Assembly Judiciary Committee passing HR5 is Legislative Activism and just like the Senate Judiciary Committee passing SR7 is Legislative Activism and just like Governor Schwarzenegger appealing to the Supreme Court, against the will of the people, to strike down Prop 8, is Executive Activism.

    More shady circumventing.

    Personal Failure makes a good point about the evolution of language using the examples of “flammable” and “inflammable.” BUT claiming the innocence of the this new addition to the definition of marriage by citing popular evolution is misleading and inaccurate. In truth, there is not ample popularity for the inclusion of a same-sex union specification in the definition of marriage. The VAST majority of the world using MW is still very much inclined to fight for the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, leaving no doubt that once again, a small group of errant activists have defied the right of the very people using the language, to define the language. This is not the first time it has happened (AAVE) and I am sure it will not be the last.

    In the end, Secular Heretic is right, the Miriam Webster definition says that a same-sex relationship is “like marriage” so it ought not to be placed, in a very blatantly misleading way, under the definition of marriage. Really, I don’t think same-sex marriage, even if legalized will ever be viewed as anything other than exactly that, “same-sex marriage.”

    And that . . . is simply not marriage.

    Same-sex marriage vs. marriage, same-sex marriage vs. marriage.

    Not the same thing. The usurper warrants its own definition.

  17. rubyeliot said,

    March 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Language is delightful, and usually its shifts and growths are happy additions that add a depth to language.

    However, it can also be destructive. For example. Historically, words that refer to women have been turned to denigrate them:

    hussy (used to refer to the mistress of a household; a thrifty woman)
    wench (which used to just mean a girl, maid, young woman; a female child)

    By including same-gender couples under the definition “marriage”, webster’s is participating in the abuse of the institution, in the same way women are demeaned by these word shifts.

  18. rubyeliot said,

    March 20, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    The OED is much more correct:

    1. a. The condition of being a husband or wife; the relation between persons married to each other; matrimony.
    The term is now sometimes used with reference to long-term relationships between partners of the same sex.

    The part about how the word is sometimes used is written as a footnote. Correctly identifying how the word is sometimes, but not authoritatively (and far from always) used.

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