The definition of a man now appears in the British dictionary as "an adult who lives and identifies as male though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth" while a woman is "an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been assigned a different sex at birth.
Cambridge Dictionary justifies the update
The British dictionary, after realizing that a large part of society disagrees with the new definitions, decided to explain the reason for this change. According to statements collected by The Telegraph, the update on the "female" entry took place in October. They also assured that the change was made after careful analysis:
They 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. The first definition at the entry for woman remains unchanged and continues to be ‘an adult female human being.’
Our dictionaries are written for learners of English and are designed to help users understand English as it is currently used.
They are compiled by analysing a large corpus of English texts (over two billion words in total) taken from all areas of writing and publishing, which allows us to see exactly how language is used.
We regularly update our dictionary to reflect changes in how English is used, based on analysis of data from this corpus.
Wave of criticism on social media
The Cambridge Dictionary, similar to what Oxford did in 2020 or what Merriam-Webster did a few months ago, aims to include transgender people, but it also generated criticism among a large part of the population who claimed that changing the definition of gender and sex is inaccurate and detrimental to society.
One of the most vocal critics of this update was Christopher Rufo, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He stated on Twitter that the change in definition of women was not fully convincing. He claims that the people at Oxford know that that the new definition isn’t true:
Notice that the dictionary writers say "*they* may have been." They couldn't bring themselves to write "she may have been," because they know they're lying. That's the tell. https://t.co/0en1sGfNMq
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) December 13, 2022
Journalist Megyn Kelly also added to the criticism. The writer noted that it seemed that some people "won't stop" until society forgets "what real women are anymore."
They won’t stop until we don’t remember what real women are anymore. https://t.co/PwXrUJT0eD
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) December 13, 2022
Daily Caller columnist Mary Rooke agreed with Kelly, stating that the intention with these changes is "erasing women" and that, if they succeed, "our civilization is ngmi."
F-ing traitors to the truth. Cambridge Dictionary is only the latest. If we don’t stop them from erasing women our civilization is ngmi. https://t.co/T4MKGEuufZ
— Mary Rooke (@MaryRooke_) December 12, 2022
Meanwhile, National Review journalist Dan McLaughlin equated this update with what can be read in 1984, asserting that the book should not be taken as a reference:
1984 wasn't supposed to be a how-to manual. https://t.co/Qr6jJn0JYX
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) December 12, 2022
Commentator Rita Panahi was equally blunt in her statements, asserting that Cambridge's decision was solely made with the intention of "ceding linguistic territory to the radical left" while ironically asking, "What could go wrong?"
Ceding linguistic territory to the radical Left. What could go wrong?
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) December 12, 2022