Publishing company Merriam-Webster has announced its selection for the word of the year.
The company published a blog post declaring “gaslighting” as the 2022 word of the year.
“In this age of misinformation — of ‘fake news,’ conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deepfakes — gaslighting has emerged as a word for our time,” the company wrote.
The blog post explains, “A driver of disorientation and mistrust, gaslighting is ‘the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.'”
According to the post, “2022 saw a 1740% increase in lookups for gaslighting, with high interest throughout the year.”
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) November 28, 2022
The origin of the word comes from the title of a play published in 1938 as well as the movie based on the play.
Merriam-Webster noted the plot “involves a man attempting to make his wife believe that she is going insane. His mysterious activities in the attic cause the house’s gas lights to dim, but he insists to his wife that the lights are not dimming and that she can’t trust her own perceptions.”
Concluding the post on the word, Merriam-Webster wrote, “In recent years, with the vast increase in channels and technologies used to mislead, gaslighting has become the favored word for the perception of deception. This is why (trust us!) it has earned its place as our Word of the Year.”
Other words listed as words of the year for the company include: oligarch, omicron, codify, LGBTQIA, sentient, loamy, raid and queen consort.
The company describes itself as “America’s leading provider of language information.”
Its products and services are “backed by the largest team of professional dictionary editors and writers in America,” according to the company.
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