Merriam-Webster Changes Sexist Definition Of ‘Femininity’ After Woman's Tweet


Ali Segel is a writer with a hilarious Twitter account, an account she used yesterday to literally change the dictionary.

Merriam-Webster has a Twitter account, which isn't really that surprising since its entire business is "all words."

Although, I really want to know what the interview process was like for its social media manager.

MERRIAM-WEBSTER: Will you ever make a spelling or grammatical mistake in our name? SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER: Never. MERRIAM-WEBSTER: I CAN'T HEAR YOU! SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER: NEVER, WORD-KEEPER! NEVER! MERRIAM-WEBSTER: OK, you may kiss my tiny, bejeweled dictionary ring.

Ali Segel noticed a pretty sexist example listed in Merriam-Webster for using "Femininity" in a sentence, and she tweeted about it.


Ali Segel told Cosmopolitan she noticed the sexist example  while working on a zine talking about the election.

One woman sent in some poetry along with a screenshot of the definition of femininity being like, 'P.S., isn't it insane that this is in the dictionary?!'

She explained why the sentence was messed up (although, of course, she didn't need to) like this:

Can you imagine: 'He managed to become a CEO without sacrificing his masculinity.'

After people started tagging Merriam-Webster's official Twitter account, it actually answered.

The Internet is amazing.

She literally got the dictionary to listen to her.

She said,

I thought the way they handled it was really great. So kudos to them for fixing it — not to take away from the initial sentence being real cringe-worthy.

It's something pretty rare, in this age of ground-standing and never-giving-an-inch, to see a company or person admit a wrong and immediately proceed to amend the mistake.

However, the fact the literal fucking dictionary could have a sentence so overtly sexist in it without anyone in the company noticing for, presumably, years is troubling to say the least.

It hasn't replaced the example sentence yet. I searched other sites, after seeing Segel told Cosmopolitan Google had used the example sentence:

She celebrates her femininity by wearing makeup and high heels.

And I found this possible replacement for Merriam-Webster's humble consideration. It's taken from a Daily Beast article:

The great thing about playing Daenerys is that she does use her femininity to get a leg up on the strong men that are around her.

Think that'll do.

Citations: The Daily Beast, Cosmopolitan