Gatekeepers of dictionaries have always tried to function like elected officials in a democracy. They lay down rules from above, but the rules are arrived at with the people's input. These days how the people really speak is already recorded elsewhere. Dictionaries keep adding new words -- twerking, meh, fo' shizzle -- but they can't keep up.
The fact is the dictionary isn't the authority anymore. Google is the authority. We live in a world where Supreme Court justices are quoting Spiderman. Language needs to communicate. And the rules that get you an A in English class aren't so helpful in real life. If you want someone to read your article, post or tweet, use the language Google suggests. Writing about engaged people? Fiancée will get you about a third fewer chances of being read than fiancé -- no matter the gender of the person. While you're at it, lose the proper accent mark too. (See below.) So do you want an A in class, or do you want a million hits on the web? (And don't worry: a million hits is what your professor wants too -- trust us.)
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