Merriam-Webster’s 2022 Word Of The Year Is ‘Gaslighting’
Open brown book on white background - stock photo open brown book on white background sarayut Thaneerat via Getty Images
sarayut Thaneerat via Getty Images

Merriam-Webster dictionary publishing company announced that its word of the year for 2022 is “gaslighting.” 

The company defines “gaslighting” as “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”

A second definition is provided as “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.”

Merriam-Webster reported that the word was looked up 1,740% more this year and there was a lot of interest over the course of the year. 

The word is derived from the title of a play from 1938 and two films that were based off of the same drama where a man tries to make his wife think that she is becoming insane as she notices the gas lights of the house growing fainter. He tells her that the lights are not fading, but rather that she is unable to trust what she is seeing. 

In the modern age, the term has become more political in use, specifically regarding social issues. The use of “gaslighting” can at times be used in place of argument or debate, as some people will instead push their own agenda by trying to convince others that what they are witnessing taking place is not happening or is unimportant. 

Merriam-Webster pointed out that “gaslighting” is different from either outright lying or committing fraud, which either take place between individual persons or with regards to organizations. Gaslighting, instead, can happen in a political form or through personal conduct. 

“It’s a word that has risen so quickly in the English language, and especially in the last four years, that it actually came as a surprise to me and to many of us,” Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year.”

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

The other top ten words of the year were “oligarch,” “omicron,” “codify,” “Queen consort,” “raid,” “sentient,” “cancel culture,” “LGBTQIA,” and “loamy.” 

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Merriam-Webster’s 2022 Word Of The Year Is ‘Gaslighting’