Macmillan Dictionary's definition of marriage to include same-sex couples

Macmillan Dictionary’s new content update includes a revised definition of marriage, following recent legislative changes which allow same-sex couples to marry.

Editor-in-Chief Michael Rundell, who is due to appear as a studio guest in Stephen Fry’s radio show Fry’s English Delight, explains why Macmillan has made this change: “In broadening the definition of marriage to include same-sex unions, the dictionary is simply reflecting a change in the way the word is used”. He continues: “It’s important to recognise that there is more to updating a dictionary than adding new vocabulary – though we have plenty of that, too.”

Keeping up with language change also means revisiting established words to see if their definitions are still fit for purpose. Meetings, for example, always used to be face-to-face but it’s now common for colleagues to “meet” via conference calls or video. Macmillan’s new definition of meeting takes account of this, and similar changes have been made at camera, alarm clock, and calendar. Even the word dictionary itself needed a facelift: traditionally defined as a printed book, its new definition recognises that most dictionaries now exist in digital form too.

Other new words that have made it into Macmillan Dictionary – reflecting developments in technology – include cyberloafing, crowdfunding, discoverability, infographic, Li-Fi, video conference, and MOOC. Meanwhile, the ever-expanding world of social networking continues to generate new vocabulary (such as YOLO, tweetheart, BFF, and IRL) – some of which is now crossing over into mainstream language, as people use words like hashtag or ROFL in everyday conversation.

Last November, Macmillan Dictionaries announced that it would abandon the print medium and publish in digital formats only, with several new updates every year. From September, Macmillan Dictionary will also introduce mobile optimised versions of their sites to accommodate for smaller screens such as smartphones and tablets.

Notes to Editors

Macmillan Dictionary is a free online dictionary and thesaurus and offers language resources for learners of English, including games, videos and lesson plans.

The Macmillan Dictionary Blog is a multi-authored blog discussing a wide range of topics related to English as it is used around the world. For more information about our new content update, please read Michael Rundell’s blog post:

Michael Rundell is Editor-in-Chief of Macmillan Dictionary and a director of Lexicography MasterClass. He is the co-author of the Oxford Guide to Practical Lexicography (2008). Michael will be a studio guest in Stephen Fry’s radio programme Fry’s English Delight, to discuss the ever-expanding vocabulary of English. The programme will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 9 September at 09:00 AM (UK: 92-95 FM, 103-105 FM).

For more information, please contact
Saskia Iseard | PR, Graded Readers and Dictionaries | Macmillan Education
Tel: +44 (0)1865 405 903 | |

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