Redefining the word ‘bully’

Major dictionaries are to stop defining bullies as strong and their targets as weak after a campaign.  Anti-bullying activists persuaded the Oxford, Cambridge and Collins Dictionaries, and online dictionaries, to change their definitions.

Previously, a bully was defined as a person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate weaker people.  Now the victim of bullying is described as someone who “they perceive as vulnerable”.

The campaign was led by anti-bullying charity Diana Award and received support from young people.  They lobbied dictionary firms to remove the word weak from their definitions.

Alex Holmes, the charity’s deputy chief executive, said:

“A core part of our work is to educate young people that a bully is not inherently strong and being a victim does not mean you are weak.

“By removing weak from the definition we can instil confidence in those who have or are still experiencing bullying and help future generations better understand bullying behaviour.”

The campaign harnessed the support of young people and social media to urge dictionary companies to remove the word ‘weak’ from their definitions of bully or bullying.  A YouGov poll revealed that 72% of GB children, aged 13-17yrs, agreed that the definition of ‘bully’ should be updated.  The campaign for change also received widespread support from celebrities and key influencers.

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