Merriam-Webster, a major dictionary publisher in the US has caused a stir online after it updated its definition of marriage to include same-sex unions.

Although the change was made some time ago in the dictionary’s print and online versions, the update only recently came to the fore when conservative website WorldNetDaily published an article bringing attention to the issue.

In addition to marriage being defined by Merriam-Webster as the “state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife”, it now also includes “the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage.”

In a statement, the company said that the “… inclusion was a simple matter of providing dictionary users with accurate information about all of the word’s current uses.”

It added: “What we are finding odd is that this is neither news nor unusual. In fact, we were kind of late to the party. We were one of the last ones among the major dictionary publishers to do this.”

As it pointed out, the company is not the first to adapt to the changing times. Other leading dictionaries – such as the Oxford English Dictionary – have included same-sex relationships within their definition of marriage for some time.

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