(CNN) — The Cambridge Dictionary recently updated its entries for "man" and "woman" to include transgender people -- the latest dictionary to broaden its lexicon to reflect evolving language around gender.A spokesperson for the Cambridge Dictionary told CNN that the updates went into effect in October.
But the move seemed to go largely unnoticed until this week, when the dictionary's expanded definition of "woman" garnered backlash from conservative commentators on social media and was subsequently covered by right-leaning media outlets.While the Cambridge Dictionary's primary definition for "woman" remains "an adult female human being," a second definition refers to "an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth." Similarly, the British reference guide defines "man" as "an adult male human being" and also "an adult who lives and identifies as male though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth."Example sentences provided by the dictionary include "Mary is a woman who was assigned male at birth" and "Their doctor encouraged them to live as a man for a while before undergoing surgical transition.""(Our editors) carefully studied usage patterns of the word woman and concluded that this definition is one that learners of English should be aware of to support their understanding of how the language is used," a Cambridge Dictionary spokesperson said in a statement to CNN. "The first definition at the entry for woman remains unchanged and continues to be 'an adult female human being'."The definition of "woman" has become yet another frontier in the culture wars in recent years.