Oxford Dictionary officially changes marriage definition to include gay couples

World's most renowned dictionary of the English language and several other British dictionaries have changed their definition after England and Wales made same-sex marriage law

Oxford Dictionary officially changes marriage definition to include gay couples
23 August 2013 Print This Article

The world’s most renowned dictionary of the English language has officially changed the definition of ‘marriage’ to include gay people.

Oxford English Dictionary online now acknowledges marriage is no longer defined as being between a man and a woman.

Future paper editions published of the dictionary will have the new, updated definition of the word.

Compilers for the OED have added ‘the relation between persons married to each other’ to its definition ‘the condition of being a husband or wife.’

It now has the note ‘the term is now sometimes used with reference to long-term relationships between partners of the same sex.’

When Gay Star News revealed the OED was planning the change in July, an Oxford University Press spokeswoman said they would be looking into the way the word ‘marriage’ changes as the law is introduced.

‘We continually monitor the words in our dictionaries, paying particular attention to those words whose usage is shifting, so yes, this will happen with marriage,’ she said.

‘It’s worth pointing out that, as the OED is distinct from other dictionaries in being a historical record of the language, meanings of the past will remain, even while language changes and new ones are added.’

Other British dictionaries have made similar changes.

Collins has amended its definition from the legal union or contract ‘made by a man and a woman to live as husband and wife’ to one ‘made by two people to live together.’

Macmillan’s definition of marriage is a ‘relationship between two people who are husband or wife’. But it now includes an addendum saying it could also mean a similar relationship between two people of same sex.

Queen Elizabeth II passed same-sex marriage in England and Wales into law on 17 July. The first gay weddings are expected to take place in summer 2014.

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