Gay marriage may not have gone over well with California voters, but at least the dictionary recognizes it.
Merriam-Webster has included a two-tier definition of marriage to recognize same-sex relationships.
It turns out the change was actually made in 2003, but it went unnoticed until the conservative World Net Daily news site reported it Tuesday.
U.S. & World
"One of the nation's most prominent dictionary companies has resolved the argument over whether the term 'marriage' should apply to same-sex duos or be reserved for the institution that has held families together for millennia: by simply writing a new definition," World Net wrote in an online story published this week.
Merriam-Webster defines marriage as "the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law."
But the secondary meaning for "marriage" as "the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage."
The company says the edited entry simply reflected how often the term "same-sex marriage" had popped up in print and become part of the language.
"We were one of the last ones among the major dictionary publishers to do this," said Merriam-Webster spokesman Arthur Bicknell.
Houghton-Mifflin, publisher of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, modified its definition of marriage in 2000, adding a fourth example to the entry: "A union between two persons having the customary but usually not the legal force of marriage: a same-sex marriage."
Earlier this month, The Oxford English Dictionary added in a draft version that the term sometimes refers to "long-term relationships between partners of the same sex."