16 January 2022, by Victoria Séveno

In a move to adjust to a changing world and the growing prevalence of gender-neutral terms, the world’s leading Dutch dictionary has announced that future editions will feature not only m for male and v for female, but also the gender-neutral x for words used to refer to people. 

Rising popularity of gender-neutral terms

The Dikke van Dale dictionary – known for holding the annual word of the year vote – has announced a move that will see future editions become more gender-inclusive. The change comes amidst ongoing discussions about the future of language and how it will adapt to include gender-neutral terminology as a standard. 

Moving forward, future editions of the Dikke van Dale will feature m, v, and x for all “de” words that refer to a person – for example de minister (“the minister”) or de voetballer (“the football player”). This means these words will no longer be gendered as male or female. All in all, the change will apply to almost 15.000 Dutch words. 

Van Dale says Dutch language is evolving

In a press release on the website, Dikke van Dale says the move is “a result of changing views in society.” “A growing group of people no longer refer to a specific gender with professional and other personal names, and use gender-inclusive options in everyday language use.” 

While this does mark a significant change for people who speak Dutch, thousands of words will remain gendered in the Dikke van Dale: “[For] words that clearly indicate the biological gender…nothing changes.” This applies to words such as de vader (“the father”) or de vuilnisman (“the garbage man”).

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