Herstory

I subscribe to Oxford Dictionaries' (OD) word of the day and today's word is 'herstory'.

The OD's definition is 'history viewed from a female or specifically feminist perspective'.

The OED's entry for 'herstory' has yet to be updated (it dates back to 1993) but the entry is fascinating. The entry advises that 'herstory' occurs between 0.01 and 0.10 times per million words in typical modern English usage and that the word's etymology is a punning alteration of 'history' (fancifully reinterpreted as 'his story', implying that history has in the past been viewed predominantly from the male perspective), with his- replaced by her. The OED's earliest recorded use of the word is 1970 by R. Morgan in Sisterhood is Powerful.

My library offers all members access to the OED for free.

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  • Sorry to be picky, but "history" with "his" replaced by "her" is "hertory".

    I think we as those who communicate in the English language (I doubt that stuff like this occurs in any other language, at least not with this frequency) should be careful not to put a band-aid on society's problems by making up different words for things. Too often what happens is someone comes up with a more "politically correct" name for something, or a group of people, or whatever, and then eventually that word starts being used in an offensive way, and then the cycle begins again when another new politically correct term is invented.

    All these new words would not be needed if people treated others with respect by default instead of of being forced into it by laws and rules. The problem is that the natural human reaction is to treat people who are perceived as different less favourably than those who are perceived to belong to the same "group". People use the excuse that they are "protecting their own" far too often.

    If people could value differences instead of feeling threatened by them then maybe women in previous centuries would have been given a chance to make history themselves, and that goes for others who are referred to by carefully-chosen politically correct terms as well.

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