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Oxford English Dictionary to change definition of ‘marriage’

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The Oxford English Dictionary has said that the definition of the term ‘marriage’ will be changed to include same sex couples.

Redefining ‘marriage’

Since receiving Royal Assent (on 17 July), the aftermath of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has begun.

The world’s most renowned dictionary of the English language has confirmed that the definition of ‘marriage’ will be changed now that legislation has passed permitting same sex couples to marry.


Language experts at the Oxford English Dictionary stated that the definition of ‘marriage’ did not change simultaneously with the law, however.

A spokeswoman for Oxford University Press said: “We continually monitor the words in our dictionaries, paying particular attention to those words whose usage is shifting, so yes, this will happen with marriage.” 


Currently, defines marriage as the “formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognised by law, by which they become husband and wife.”

In a reference, it says that marriage could also be “(in some jurisdictions) a union between partners of the same sex.”

“We are constantly monitoring usage in this area in order to consider what revisions and updates we may need to make,” added the Oxford University Press spokeswoman.


Other countries, such as France and Canada, have seen similar changes in redefining ‘marriage.’

The new edition of the French Larousse dictionary, which will be published in 2014, defines ‘marriage’ as a “solemn act between two same-sex or different-sex persons, who decide to establish a union.”

The Canada Space Dictionary defines marriage by avoiding gender altogether: “the state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life (or until divorce).”


“We can change the meaning of words but we can’t change reality. True marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” said Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern.

“The further we move away from the truth, the more we start to live in a fictitious world. The distinction between male and female is a very basic and fundamental truth. To say that male and female are interchangeable – as same sex ‘marriage’ does – is a rejection of the nature of what God has made.

“Individuals and communities do better when they live in line with the way God has ordered the world. Redefining marriage according to what some people want is a step away from that which enslaves rather than liberates.”


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