I prefer the OED anyway. Great article. Be sure to read the whole thing.
If Merriam-Webster’s editors aren’t careful, though, they will undermine the very thing that makes their dictionary useful. An accusation of bias is (or should be) a death sentence for a dictionary. All the clever jokes in the world won’t save Merriam-Webster from a widespread perception of political partisanship—and promptly cost them half of their readers.
First, they’ll lose the trust of Trump supporters, then the respect of everyone on the Right, and finally all the folks on the Left, even those who despise Trump the most.
That’s because conservatives and liberals alike will reject as too Orwellian a dictionary perceived as politically charged. It will simply be too hard to convince people that cultural or political bias hasn’t seeped into and soiled the dictionary’s definitions. When it comes to lexicography, credibility depends on impartiality.
Regardless of their political opinions, Americans still expect the dictionary to be objective and neutral, even more than they expect that from the media. So at a time when trust and confidence in America’s mainstream media is practically nonexistent, why would Merriam-Webster even flirt with the appearance of partisanship?
If even the dictionary loses its objectivity, it means politics in America has become entirely inescapable. That’s not just dangerous, it’s sad. It’s unhealthy. It’s not good for a society to be so permeated with politics that there is nowhere to hide.
Of course, Merriam-Webster has every right to do what it wants to do. They can turn themselves into a source of political news, comedy, and commentary if they wish. But America already has enough of that. What America really needs, now more than ever, is something solid that everyone trusts and everyone respects. The dictionary used to have that kind of quiet power. Not anymore.