The Oxford English Dictionary Updates Marriage Definition To Include Same-Sex Marriage

| by Jonathan Wolfe
article imagearticle image

The English language’s most prominent dictionary is changing their definition of marriage.

In light of the England’s recent law change that will legalize same-sex marriage, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) changed their definition of marriage to include same-sex unions.

An Oxford University Press spokesperson recently spoke to Gay Star News about the change.

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

Currently, the dictionary defines marriage as “the formal union of a man and woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife.” Underneath the main definition is a sub-point saying “(in some jurisdictions) a union between partners of the same sex.”

Gay rights activists have long complained about being left out of the dictionaries main definition, but their concerns should be eased once the dictionary updates the definition.

The OED is not the first dictionary to incorporate same-sex unions into their definition of marriage. The leading French and Canadian dictionaries have done so as well.

The leading French dictionary, the Larousse, defines marriage as “a solemn act between two same-sex or different-sex persons, who decide to establish a union.”

Canada’s top dictionary, The Canada Space Dictionary, defines the word as “the state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life (or until divorce).”

Queen Elizabeth II passed same-sex marriage into law in England and Wales on July 17. 

Sources: Gay Star News, Oxford English Dictionary