‘Gaslighting’ is Merriam-Webster’s 2022 word of the year

Word searches on merriam-webster.com are up 1,740 percent in 2022 from the previous year, but something unusual is going on as well.

NEW YORK – “Gaslighting” – mind manipulation, seriously misleading, downright deceitful – is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year.

Word searches on merriam-webster.com increased by 1,740 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year. But something else happened. There is not one event that causes curiosity to spike, as it is often accompanied by the chosen word of the year.

Gaslighting has spread.

Peter Sokolowski, editor-in-chief of Merriam-Webster, said: “It’s a word that has emerged so quickly in the English language, especially in the last four years, that surprises me and many of us. an exclusive interview with The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s premiere.

“It’s a word that is looked up regularly every day of the year,” he said.

There are deepfakes and dark web. There are poignant statuses and fake news. And there’s a lot of trolling.

Merriam-Webster’s leading definition of gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of a person, often over an extended period of time, “causing the victim to question the validity of thoughts, perceptions of reality, or memories. their own and often leads to confusion and loss. about self-confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty about one’s emotional or mental stability, and dependence on perpetrators.”

Gaslighting is a hideous tool commonly used by relationship abusers — and by politicians and other messengers. It can happen between romantic partners, in a larger family unit, and between friends. It could be a corporate tactic, or a way to mislead the public. There are also “medical beacons”, when a healthcare professional dismisses a patient’s symptoms or illness as “all in your head”.

While it’s been relatively popular lately — including “Gaslighter,” The Chicks’ 2020 album features an insanely angry title single — the word was brought to life more than 80 years ago with “Gas Light.” , a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton.

It spawned two film adaptations in the 1940s. One, George Cukor’s 1944 “Gaslight,” starring Ingrid Bergman as Paula Alquist and Charles Boyer as Gregory Anton. The two get married after a tumultuous romance and Gregory turns out to be a gas-lighting champion. Among other cases, he insists her complaint about the gas lights in their London townhouse constantly dimming was a fantasy in her troubled mind. Not so.

Sokolowski said Angela Lansbury’s death in October has sparked some interest in looking up the word. She plays Nancy Oliver, a young maid who is hired by Gregory and told not to bother his “arrogant” wife.

The term gaslighting was later used by mental health practitioners to clinically describe a persistent form of compulsive control in abusive relationships.

“There is an implication of a deliberate deception,” Sokolowski said. “And once one becomes aware of that deception, it’s not just a lie, as you know, I didn’t eat the cookies in the cookie jar. It’s something that has a little more tortuous quality to it. It could be an idea of ​​a strategy or a long-term plan.”

Merriam-Webster, which records 100 million page views per month on its website, chooses the word of the year based solely on data. Sokolowski and his team removed the most commonly looked up evergreen words to see which received a significant increase over the previous year.

They don’t analyze why people look up words, it could be anything from a spell check and quick definition to some inspiration or motivational attempt. Some drivers who looked up the word “gaslighting” this year might just want to know if it’s a word or two or if it has a hyphen.

“Gaslighting,” says Sokolowski, spent the whole of 2022 on the 50 most searched words on merriam-webster.com to achieve the most important word of the year position. Last year’s pick was “vaccine”. Rounding off the Top 10 this year is:

— “Oligarchy,” fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

– “Omicron,” persistent COVID-19 variant and 15th letter of the Greek alphabet.

– “Legalize,” as in making abortion rights federal law.

– “The Queen”, the wife of King Charles, Camilla is just known.

— “Raid,” as in the search for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

– “Sensitive,” with searches done by Google disqualifying the engineer who claimed that an unreleased AI system had become sentient.

– “Culture cancellation,” enough said.

— “LGBTQIA,” for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, homosexual or questionable, intersex and asexual, aromantic, or agender.

– “Loamy”, which many Wordle users tried again in August, even though the correct word that day was “clown”.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/gaslighting-merriam-websters-word-of-2022/507-380609ba-e46d-4f67-88a3-9516b771c3ea ‘Gaslighting’ is Merriam-Webster’s 2022 word of the year

Edmund DeMarche

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