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Merriam-Webster picks ‘gaslighting’ as word of the year

Merriam-Webster.com is displayed on a computer screen on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

American publishing company Merriam-Webster has selected “gaslighting” as its 2022 word of the year, citing a rise in interest in the word over the past few years as misinformation and conspiracy theories become more rampant.

Merriam-Webster defines gaslighting under its traditional use as a “psychological manipulation of a person” over time that causes the victim to “question the validity of their thoughts.”

But gaslighting saw a 1,740 percent increase in lookups in 2022, according to Merriam-Webster, and the word has rapidly evolved in meaning.

Another definition included by Merriam-Webster is the “act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.”



Merriam-Webster said in a blog post that gaslighting “has emerged as a word for our time” during the “age of misinformation.”

“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,” the publishing and dictionary company wrote. “This is why (trust us!) it has earned its place as our Word of the Year.”

Gaslighting has its origins in the 1938 British play “Gas Light,” about a husband who tricks his wife into believing she is going insane.

The other words on Merriam-Webster’s list of words of the year are: oligarch, omicron, codify, LGBTQIA, sentient, loamy, raid and queen consort.

Tags Gaslighting Merriam-Webster Merriam-Webster word of the year
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