Pansexual is one of Merriam-Webster’s words of 2018
Pansexual has made it onto Merriam-Webster’s list of words of the year.
The US dictionary company has explained that the sexual orientation‘s rise to prominence, which sees it ranked third after “Justice” and “Nationalism”—both of which relate heavily to Donald Trump—is largely down to performer Janelle Monáe.
The “Dirty Computer” singer came out in April, calling herself “a queer black woman” and explaining that she had identified as bisexual at first, “but then later I read about pansexuality and was like: ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’”
Merriam-Webster said that the star’s revelation led to “a spike in lookups in April,” through which people learned that ‘pansexual’ was defined as a “sexual desire or attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation.”
The company, which has been sassier on social media since Trump’s election in 2016, even correcting Kellyanne Conway’s definition of feminism, also explained the positive aspects of pansexuality as a term.
“The semantic breadth of the prefix pan-, which means ‘all’ or ‘completely,’ has made pansexual a useful alternative to bisexual for those who see gender as a spectrum rather than a binary,” Merriam-Webster said.
This doesn’t mean that bisexual folks out there don’t believe in a spectrum of sexuality. While bi people can feel attraction to more than one gender, pansexual folks can feel attraction to all people, regardless of gender.
Other terms on Merriam-Webster’s list included ‘Laurel’—in reference to the viral “Laurel or Yanny?” audio clip which swept the internet in May, even prompting someone to write lesbian fiction, and ‘Respect,’ the name of one of Aretha Franklin‘s most famous songs, after the singer died in August.
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2018: The year of pansexual folks?
As well as Monáe’s shout-out, pansexual people also received some much-needed representation when Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie came out in July.
The 31-year-old “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” singer explained: “If a person is great, then a person is great. I just like good people, if your heart’s in the right place.
“It’s just people that I am attracted to”
— Brendon Urie
“I’m definitely attracted to men. It’s just people that I am attracted to,” he added, before responding to a direct question asking if he was pansexual by saying: “I guess so, I guess this is me coming out as pansexual.”
Netflix’s well-received Chilling Adventures of Sabrina also included a pansexual character in the shape of Sabrina’s English cousin Ambrose Spellman, who makes it explicitly clear throughout the series that he is attracted to all genders.
And there has also been the odd viral pansexual moment too, with one British student attracting attention after tricking her intolerant parents into getting her an LGBT+ flag “because it matches the colours in my room.”