The terms “microagression” and “safe space” were added this week to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the company has said.
According to a statement Tuesday, the new terms are joined by more than 1,000 other additions that reflect “the breadth of English vocabulary…”
“Just as the English language constantly grows, so does the dictionary. More than one thousand new words have been added, including terms from recent advances in science, borrowings from foreign languages, and words from tech, medicine, pop culture, sports, and everything in between,” the statement reads. “This is a significant addition to our online dictionary, reflecting the breadth of English vocabulary and the speed with which we seek information.”
A microaggression, described as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group,” can include anything from “equating hard work with success” to using the term “you guys” in the presence of women.
In 2015 the University of Wisconsin even claimed that complimenting people of color or viewing America as a “melting pot” were racist microaggressions.
A safe space, described as “a place (as on a college campus) intended to be free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas, or conversations,” are known to include such amenities as coloring books, cookies and videos of puppies.
The terms, associated with modern progressives, have caused a backlash by both conservatives, classical liberals and some in academia.
In an article entitled, “The Coddling Of The American Mind,” writers for The Atlantic argue that the phenomenon is “disastrous for education and mental health.”
“This new climate is slowly being institutionalized, and is affecting what can be said in the classroom, even as a basis for discussion,” the article states. “During the 2014–15 school year, for instance, the deans and department chairs at the 10 University of California system schools were presented by administrators at faculty leader-training sessions with examples of microaggressions.”
“The list of offensive statements included: ‘America is the land of opportunity’ and ‘I believe the most qualified person should get the job.'”
“Rather than trying to protect students from words and ideas that they will inevitably encounter, colleges should do all they can to equip students to thrive in a world full of words and ideas that they cannot control.”