Neopronouns are a singular third-person pronouns that are not officially recognized in the language they are used in, typically created with the intent of being a gender-neutral pronoun set. Neopronominal is a term for those who use neopronouns.
- Neopronouns can be used by anyone, though most often they are used by transgender, non-binary, and/or gender nonconforming people. Like all pronouns, neopronouns are personal to each individual who uses them, but they all share one thing in common: people who use neopronouns do so to feel comfortable and have their humanity acknowledged and respected. - Mykidisgay.com
- Neopronouns are any set of singular third person pronouns that are not officially recognized in the language they are used in, typically created with the intent of being a gender neutral pronoun set. - Nounself.carrd.co
In English, and many other Indo-European languages, third-person pronouns can be considered gendered. In English, "she/her" is considered to be for women, "he/him" for men, and (if considered at all;) "they/them" for non-binary individuals. Realisitically, many individuals deviate from this convention. Some individuals prefer using neopronouns as an alternative gender-neutral pronoun set.
This could be to avoid singular "they" being confused with plural "they," because neopronouns express something about them or their gender (like xenogenders), or because they feel more comfortable using neopronouns over any of the standard pronoun options.
Historically, there were two gender-neutral pronouns native to English dialects, ou and (h)a. According to Dennis Baron's Grammar and Gender: Baron goes on to describe how relics of these gender-neutral terms survive in some British dialects of Modern English (for example hoo for "she", in Yorkshire), and sometimes a pronoun of one gender might be applied to a human or non-human animal of the opposite gender. This aforementioned hoo is also sometimes used in the West Midlands and south-west England as a common gender pronoun.
Both the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Wright's English Dialect Dictionary confirm the use of "a" in place of "he," "she," "it," "they," and even "I." It is a reduced form of the Old English pronoun, "he," meaning "he" and "heo" meaning "she". Some surviving British dialects still use this pronoun.
In some West Country dialects, the pronoun er can be used in place of either he or she, although only in weak (unstressed) positions such as in tag questions. These pronouns may not strictly fit the definition of neopronouns, as they developed naturally in the language and, as far as can be discerned, were not created by an individual with the goal of creating a gender-neutral pronoun. Additionally, in Essex, in the south-east of England, in the Middle English period, the spelling "hye" could refer to either he or she. More recently, in the city of Baltimore, and possibly other cities in the United States, yo has come to be used as a gender-neutral pronoun.
Various proposals for the use of other non-standard pronouns have been introduced since at least the 19th century. Ou was first recorded in a native English dialect in the 16th century. In 1789, William H. Marshall documented the use of a, used by 14th century English writer, John of Trevisa, the existence of a dialectal English epicene pronoun, singular ou: '"Ou will" expresses either he will, she will, or it will.' Marshall traces ou as possibly deriving from Middle English a.
There are several very similar sets of pronouns with the nominative form e which have been independently proposed over the last hundred years. The earliest known example may be created in 1890 by James Rogers of Crestview, Florida. It was made in response to the thon set, and was derived from the he and them pronoun sets. This version does not have a recorded predicative possessive or reflexive form.
In 1977, a version in which all forms starts with capital letters was independently created by psychologist Donald G. MacKay of the University of California at Los Angeles. In 1989 an identical version it was independently created by Victor J. Stone, Professor of Law.
In his 1920 novel, A Voyage to Arcturus, David Lindsay invented the ae pronoun set for an alien race, which were born from air and of a third sex. These pronouns are still somewhat well known on the internet.
Co was created by Mary Orovan in 1970. It is derived from the Indo-European *ko, as an inclusive alternative to he or she. Today, co is still used in some communities, such as in the legal policies of Twin Oaks in Virginia, which provides information on the pronoun in its visitor guide web page.
Several variants of ze have been proposed, with different object forms, to meet the need of unspecified gender situations and transgender persons. Kate Bornstein, an American transgender author, used the pronoun forms ze and hir in the book "Nearly Roadkill: an Infobahn erotic adventure" in 1996. Jeffrey A. Carver, an American science fiction writer, used the pronoun hir in the novel "From a Changeling Star" for a different-gendered nonhuman, in 1989.
In addition to an interjection and greeting, yo is a gender-neutral pronoun in a dialect of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) spoken by middle school students in Baltimore, Maryland, the student body of which is 97% African-American. These students had spontaneously created the pronoun as early as 2004, and commonly used it. A study by Stotko and Troyer in 2007 examined this pronoun. The speakers used yo only for same-age peers, not adults or authorities. The speakers thought of it as a slang word that was informal, but they also thought if it as just as acceptable as he or she. Yo was used for people whose gender was unknown, as well as for specific people whose gender was known, often while using a pointing gesture at the person in question. The researchers only collected examples of yo used in the nominative form, finding no possessive forms such as *yo's and no reflexive forms such as *yoself.
|Nominative (subject)||Oblique (object)||Independent genitive
|he||he is laughing||I called him||his eyes gleam||that is his||he likes himself|
|she||she is laughing||I called her||her eyes gleam||that is hers||she likes herself|
|it||it is laughing||I called it||its eyes gleam||that is its||it likes itself|
|one||one is laughing||I called one||one's eyes gleam||that is one's||one likes oneself|
|they||they are laughing||I called them||their eyes gleam||that is theirs||they like themselves
they like themself
|'em||–||I called 'em||–||–||–|
(regional, c. 2004)
|Yo is laughing||I called yo||yos eyes gleam||that is yos||yo likes yoself|
|Written conventions based on traditional pronouns|
|she/he||he/she is laughing||I called him/her||his/her eyes gleam||that is his/hers||he/she likes him/herself|
|s/he||s/he is laughing||I called him/r||his/r eyes gleam||that is his/rs||s/he likes him/herself|
|hhe is laughing||–||–||–||–|
|Artificial and proposed epicene pronouns|
|thon is laughing||I called thon||thons eyes gleam||that is thons||thon likes thonself|
|e is laughing||I called em||es eyes gleam||that is es||e likes emself|
|tey is laughing||I called tem||ter eyes gleam||that is ters|
(Rickter, c. 1973)
|xe is laughing||I called xem||xyr eyes gleam||that is xyrs||xe likes xemself|
|te is laughing||I called tir||tes eyes gleam|
|ey is laughing||I called em||eir eyes gleam||that is eirs||ey likes eirself|
|per is laughing||I called per||per eyes gleam||that is pers||per likes perself|
(Hulme, c. 1980)
|ve is laughing||I called ver||vis eyes gleam||that is vis||ve likes verself|
|hu is laughing||I called hum||hus eyes gleam||that is hus||hu likes humself|
|E is laughing||I called Em||Eir eyes gleam||that is Eirs||E likes Emself|
|ze is laughing||I called mer||zer eyes gleam||that is zers||ze likes zemself|
|ze (zie, sie) is laughing||I called hir||hir eyes gleam||that is hirs||ze (zie, sie) likes hirself|
|zhe is laughing||I called zhim||zher eyes gleam||that is zhers||zhe likes zhimself|
|sie is laughing||I called hir||hir eyes gleam||that is hirs||sie likes hirself|
|peh is laughing||I called pehm||peh's eyes gleam||that is peh's||peh likes pehself|
(anon., c. 2013)
|ze (zie, sie) is laughing||I called zir/zem||zir/zes eyes gleam||that is zirs/zes||ze (zie, sie) likes zirself/zemself|
|fae||fae is laughing||I called faer||faer eyes gleam||that is faers||fae likes faerself|
Main article: Nounself
Nounself pronouns are a subset of neopronouns that are more directly based on words, often nouns.
It is unclear where the word "nounself" itself was first coined, although it may be on Tumblr because of the amount of popularity that nounself sets gained, starting in 2015.
The earliest example of what could be called a nounself pronoun was proposed by by American lawyer Charles Crozat Converse in 1884. Converse took the words "this one" and "that one" and proposed thon as a gender-neutral pronoun set.American composer Charles Crozat Converse who proposed the pronoun set thon/thons/thonself in 1858. It was based on a contraction of "that one". The thon pronoun was included in some dictionaries such as Webster's International Dictionary (1910), Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary (1913), and Webster's Second International (1959).
|“||thon. Pronoun of the 3rd person, common gender, meaning “that one, he she, or it”: a neoterism proposed by Charles Crozat Converse, and apparently complying with the neoteristic canons, since it supplies an antecedent blank, obeys a simple and obvious analogy, and is euphonious.|
|— Funk and Wagnalls, Supplement to A Standard Dictionary of the English Language, 1903, https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/third-person-gender-neutral-pronoun-thon|
For most of the 20th century, thon appeared in various publications of Funk and Wagnalls, and also spread to another dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Second New International Dictionary (1934 edition). Thon was removed from abridged dictionary in the third edition.
Often called humanist pronouns, hu/hum/hus/hus/humself was used in several college humanities texts published by Bandanna Books and originated by editor Sasha Newborn in 1982.
Faeself And Others
One of the most commonly recognized nounself pronoun sets is fae/faer, first seen online in 2013.
Why did I choose fae/vaer as my pronouns?
Because I am fae. I am described as such by people who don’t know me — fae and feline and not-exactly-human. I do identify as faen, and in some ways angel as well, and fae and angel are the goals of my presentation. My choice of fae as a pronoun reflects this.
Using fae as a pronoun started out half a joke, a 1am offhand comment that fae would be one of the only things I could use as a pronoun and identify with. The next morning, it wasn’t so much a joke anymore, and by the end of the day my girlfriend and I had come up with how fae would work as a pronoun.
To address the point about fae as binary or not — it depends on your source material. My personal view on this is that fae and fae creatures as stand outside the binary. They probably have some form of gender, but it’s most definitely not our human binary. Angels, on the other hand, are genderless. They have no sex and they have no gender. Together, fae and angels are the two sides of androgyny that are possible, and kind of form a secondary arc around the male/female binary: that of gendered/genderless.
…so in some ways, I’m using fae as a giant ‘fuck you’ to the gender binary and a refusal of much of the American culture surrounding gender. My gender is yes. Except when it’s no. Either way, it’s not male or female and using a pronoun that is very associated with creatures that stand outside humankind is, for me at least, a very good way to remind people of this constantly.
Main article: Emojiself
Emojiself pronouns are a subset of neopronouns and nounself pronouns that replace the content of the pronoun entirely with an emoji.
Main article: 1stp
While "neopronouns" are typically used to describe third person pronouns, the definition of the word could also apply to alternate first person pronouns. These are not common, but alternate first person pronouns do exist and are used, which may or may not be related to being transgender.
25% of LGBTQ youth use they/them exclusively, a combination of he/him, she/her, or they/them, or neopronouns such as ze/zir or fae/faer. In the 2019 Gender Census, 18 (0.2%) individuals said that they were happy to be referred to as thon.
Perceptions and Discrimination
It is commonly claimed, online and offline, (usually by Exclusionist groups) that neopronouns, especially nounself pronouns, are a new invention.  However, this is untrue and ahistorical. Humanist pronouns are an example of nounself pronouns that are older than most exclusionists themselves.
- Another common claim is that using fae/faer or similar pronouns is cultural appropriate againstPagans/Celtrics; However these aren't the only cultures that have fae, the original coiner identified as a fae faerself, and Celts and Pagans are statistically more likely to feel actively good about someone’s fae/faer pronouns, even when that person is not a Celt/Pagan.
Neopronoun users are frequently subject to misgendering. (See main article: Misgendering)
Misgendering is an act of erasure and transphobia, which has been linked to mental health struggles and suicide. The U.S. Transgender Survey states that 54% of those living with unsupportive families, where their family members may misgender them, had attempted suicide within their lifetime. 37% of those with supportive families had attempted suicide at some point of their lives.
|“||Because names and pronouns are the two ways people call and refer to others, they are personal and important. They are also key facets of our identity. Therefore, calling someone by the wrong name or “misgendering” them by using incorrect pronouns can feel disrespectful, harmful and even unsafe.|
|— Let’s Get It Right: Using Correct Pronouns and Names, ADL.org|
|“||According to the World Health Organization, violence is referred to as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.” |
When someone intentionally misgenders a transgender person, it can be noted as psychological abuse. Misgendering is dehumanizing; when you purposefully disregard someone’s gender, simply because they are not like you, it can lead to mental and physical harm.
|— Intentionally Misgendering Transgender People is Considered Violence, Affinity Magazine|
List of neopronouns
See main article: Neopronoun/List
Like other parts of a person's identity, like their gender or orientation, flags may be made specifically for pronouns. Unlike other facets of queer identity, pronoun flags at large don't follow any real common convention. Flags for pronouns vary wildly in design, number of stripes, and symbols used. A pronoun flag format called "pronoun path" is used by Tumblr user mothpride. This refers to a specific design of flag that uses two overlapping stripes, with each flag being unaligned with any identity, just pronouns. The first example of this format being used was posted November 10th, 2020, and the term "pronoun path" was first used in another post the same day.
In 2021, Ezgender designed a proposed "standard pronoun template" and released a free online template for it.
- Neopronouns flag (ferns-garden (formerly beanjamoose), on or before 1 July 2019)
Stripe meanings from top to bottom:
Neopronouns flag (uncommongenders (deactivated), 5 June, 2018)
Specific Pronoun Flags
Ae/aer flag (March 22, 2021, pride-flags. Original source currently unknown.)
- GeekyCorn's neopronouns flag.
- GeekyCorn's neopronoun flag stripe meanings.
- ferns-garden's/beanjamoose's neopronoun flag, posted to yourfave-uses-neopronouns.
- yourfave-uses-neopronouns' post on the stripe meanings of ferns-garden's/beanjamoose's neopronoun flag.
- uncommongender's neopronouns flag.
- neopronouns' neopronominal flag.
- mourningmogaicrew's thon/thons pronoun flag.
- [https://archive.vn/01TS1 nooonbinaryyyy's thon/thon pronoun flag.
- mourningmogaicrew's ae/aer pronoun flag.
- queerso's Ae/aer flag
- mogaifanboy's Ae/aer flag
- @bebbls-craft-blog's Ae/aer flag
- @craftgender's Ae/Aer flag
- neopronounz.flagz's Ae/aer flag
- @edenmogai's Ae/aer flag
- @edenmogai's alternate Ae/aer flag