Grammar

Dictionary Names ‘Allyship’ as Word of the Year

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Dictionary.com announced an interesting selection for its word of the year for 2021. Have you ever heard of the word allyship?

Given the crazy past year with a pandemic and bitter political arguing, you might have a hard time believing there were many efforts towards unity. But Dictionary.com just named allyship, a word referring to that very goal, as its word of the year for 2021.

“The events of 2021 can never be fully summarized with a single word,” the site said in an Instagram post. “But there is one word that’s intertwined with so many of the things we’ve experienced this year.”

It defines allyship as a noun meaning “the status or role of a person who advocates and actively works for the inclusion of a marginalized or politicized group in all areas of society….”

Actually, that’s only half of the definition.

The most interesting part is the second half: “…not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view and under its leadership.”

Think about that for a moment.

Imagine someone who is white advocating for members of a different race. Consider someone who is straight who advocates for members of the LGBTQ community. Perhaps you can envision members of one faith working on behalf of members of a different faith.

Maybe it could be as simple as workers with comfortable salaries joining the fight to increase minimum wage for thsoe who struggle to make ends meet.

It’s one thing when members of a marginalized or politicized group fight for themselves. It can be much more powerful when those not in that group fight on their behalf.

That has the power to make people take notice in a different way.

A close friend of mine who is straight and happily married went on a vacation with his wife to the Pacific Northwest last year. They arrived, coincidentally, in time for a large Pride event and joined those festivities. Their goal was to support to members of the LGBTQ community. They have friends who are and have seen firsthand the marginalization those people go through.

Dictionary.com says the word — and its meaning — act as a “powerful prism.” It shapes how we view defining events and how the public processed them.

“And while we must acknowledge that efforts at ‘allyship‘ are all too often insufficient and imperfect, the word nonetheless stands out for its role in the path out of the continued crises of 2020 for a better 2022,” it adds.

I’m grateful for the many allies out there. Being an ally isn’t always easy. I see it as an expression of empathy, something we seem to have far too little of these days.

Maybe naming this particular word as the word of the year might remind us to look for such opportunities in 2022.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.