The Oxford English Dictionary is considering adding “Mx.” to its next edition as a gender-neutral alternative to “Mr.,” “Ms.” and “Mrs.”
According to The Advocate, “Mx.,” which is pronounced “mux” or “mix,” would provide an option for people who do not identify with its gendered equivalents. The term has gradually won inclusion in the UK, having been adopted as an option by official government documents along with some banks and universities.
There is currently no widely-used gender-neutral replacement for “Mr.” or “Mrs./Ms,” and this addition would mark the first time that such an option appeared in the dictionary.
One of the earliest known uses of “Mx.” is in a 1977 magazine article that suggested it as a replacement for “Mr.” or “Mrs./Ms.,” according to Practical Androgyny, a blog and resource website for people of nonbinary genders.
The OED began considering adding the term after its use became more widespread, OED assistant editor Jonathan Dent told the Sunday Times. The organization judges whether to add a word to the dictionary based on whether it is widely used, “significant or important” and likely to stay relevant over time.
The possible inclusion is a mark of the English language’s ability to accommodate society’s changing attitudes on gender and identity, Dent said.
“This an example of how the English language adapts to people’s needs, with people using language in ways that suit them rather than letting language dictate identity to them.”