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Merriam-Webster updates ‘bisexual’ definition

Merriam-Webster updated the definition, which now reads that bisexual can mean “of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to people of one’s same sex and of the opposite sex” or “of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to people of one’s own gender identity and of other gender identities.”

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels.com

Merriam-Webster has updated the definition of ‘bisexual’ to make it less binary.

Prior to the change, the dictionary defined ‘bisexual’ as: “1a: possessing characters of both sexes and especially both male and female reproductive structures; 1b: of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to both men and women; 2: of, relating to, or involving both sexes.”

In 2019, bisexual advocate Robyn Ochs contacted Merriam-Webster to ask it to change the definition. Sans immediate action, Ochs was joined by GLAAD to petition the change.

Merriam-Webster eventually updated the definition, which now reads that bisexual can mean “of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to people of one’s same sex and of the opposite sex” or “of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to people of one’s own gender identity and of other gender identities.”

This is actually not the proposed definition of Ochs, who wrote in a GLAAD blog that ‘bisexual’ is “the potential to be attracted — romantically and/or sexually — to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”

All the same, the effort was seen as an “important step in helping to create a more accurate and current understanding of bisexual people.”

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