‘Twice-Exceptional’ and the Importance of Words

In a recent piece, Arkansas Democrat Gazette grammar columnist Bernadette Kinlaw explored dictionary.com’s newly added and updated entries for 2021. It’s a fun approach to language — especially for fellow word nerds — that explores the origins, newfound usage, and usefulness (or lack thereof) of words and phrases that have become more prominent in recent years.
Among the words Kinlaw specifically singles out in her piece for greater discussion is the term “twice-exceptional,” which now has its own entry.

The site defines 2e as:
relating to or noting a person, especially a child or student, who is considered gifted and also has a diagnosed disability, as a learner with both a high IQ and dyslexia.
For broad dictionary usage, that’s pretty much spot on. (Incidentally, the site also gave neurodivergent its own entry this year as well.)

The idea that awareness of twice-exceptionality has grown enough to merit acknowledgement on sites like dictionary.com — which tend to include more new terms, slang, and informal entries than the Merriam-Websters of the world — is gratifying. After all, that’s what we’re here for.

But there’s a twist to this story.

In her piece, Kinlaw questions the necessity of some of the newly added words and terms, with twice-exceptional being among them. She writes:
And then I learned about "twice exceptional." ... I'm not sure what to say about this one. It's jargon. If someone said it, I'd just have to ask for a clarification. Does using the term save time? Will it really become something that's in widespread usage? Am I just being grumpy?
These are interesting questions — including whether the author is being grumpy, but we can unpack that elsewhere.

To the layperson, simply descri...


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About Jon Baum

Jon Baum is head of site and editorial operations at 2e News. He previously has served as a writer and editor for ESPN.com, Yahoo! Sports, and GOOD Magazine.