Home USA News “Gaslighting” is Merriam-Webster’s 2022 word of the year

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


“Gaslighting” — mind manipulation, gross misrepresentation, just deception — is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year.

NEW YORK (AP) — “Hawlighting” — mind-manipulating, grossly misleading, downright deceptive behavior — is Merriam-Webster Word of the Year.

In 2022, searches for the word on merriam-webster.com increased by 1740% compared to the previous year. But something else happened. There wasn’t a single event that caused a significant surge of curiosity, as is usually the case with the chosen word of the year.

Gas lighting was ubiquitous.

“This word has grown so quickly in the English language, especially in the last four years, that it was a surprise to me and to many of us,” said Peter Sokolowski, editor-in-chief of Merriam-Webster, in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press the day before opening on Monday.

“It was a word that was searched for every day of the year,” he said.

They were there deep fakes and dark web. They were there deep states and fake news. And there was a lot trolling

Merriam-Webster’s main definition of gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of a person, usually over a long period of time, that “causes the victim to question the validity of his own thoughts, perceptions of reality, or memories and usually results in confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, insecurity in his emotional or mental stability and dependence on the criminal.”

More broadly, the dictionary defines the word as: “The act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own gain.”

Gaslighting is a disgusting tool often used by abusers in relationships – as well as politicians and other newsmakers. This can happen between romantic partners, in the wider family and among friends. This could be a corporate tactic or a way to mislead the public. There is also “medical gaslighting,” where a health care professional dismisses a patient’s symptoms or illness as “all in your head.”

Despite its relatively recent fame — including “Gaslighter”, 2020 album by The Chicks with a stunningly angry title single, the word was brought to life more than 80 years ago in Gas Light, a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton.

It spawned two film adaptations in the 1940s. One of them, George Cukor’s Gas Lantern in 1944, starred Ingrid Bergman as Paula Alquist and Charles Boyer as Gregory Anton. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and Gregory turns out to be a gaslighting champion. Among other things, he insists that her complaints about the constant dimming of the gas lights in their London home are figments of her troubled mind. It wasn’t.

The death of Angela Lansbury in October sparked some interest in searching for the word, Sokolowski said. She played Nancy Oliver, a young maid who was hired by Gregory and ordered not to disturb his “stalwart” wife.

The term “gaslighting” was later used by mental health professionals to clinically describe a form of prolonged coercive control in abusive relationships.

“There is an implication of deliberate deception,” Sokolovsky said. “And when you’re aware of that deception, it’s not a simple lie like, you know, I didn’t eat the cookies in the cookie jar. This is something that has a slightly more insidious quality. Maybe he has an idea for a strategy or a long-term plan.”

Merriam-Webster, which registers 100 million page views per month on your website, chooses its word of the year based solely on data. Sokolowski and his team sifted through the most frequently searched evergreen words to determine which word saw a significant increase in the past year.

They don’t understand why people search for words, which can be anything from a quick spelling and definition check to some attempt at inspiration or motivation. Some of those who searched for the word “gas world” this year may have just wanted to know if it was one or two words or a hyphen.

“Gaslighting,” Sokolowski said, spent all of 2022 in the top 50 words searched on merriam-webster.com to earn word of the year status. Last year’s the choice was “vaccine”. Rounding out this year’s top 10 are:

“Oligarch”, caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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

“codify”, as in making abortion rights federal law.

“Queen Consort”, As the wife of King Charles, Camilla is recently famous.

“The Raid” as in the search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

“Smart”, with searches triggered by Google, canning an engineer who claimed an unreleased artificial intelligence system had become intelligent.

“Abolish culture”, enough said.

“LGBTQIA”, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and asexual, aromantic or agender.

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


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