With Gay Man as Top Editor, American Heritage Dictionary Redefines Words


In the gay news source The Advocate:

The job of dictionaries is primarily to describe how language is used, not to dictate how it should be used,” lexicographer Steve Kleinedler, The American Heritage Dictionary’s new executive editor, wrote in a 2009 op-ed.

The statement is part American Heritage Dictionary ethos, part personal experience. In 2009, Kleinedler’s husband died suddenly, just two months after Kleinedler and fellow editors had revised the definitions of several marriage-related words to reflect the changing culture. The definition of widower, for example, was revised from "a man whose wife has died and who has not remarried" to "a man whose spouse has died and who has not remarried."