The Merriam Webster Word of the Year for 2022 is…

“Gaslighting” — behavior that manipulates minds, is grossly misleading, or outright fraudulent — is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year.

Searches for the word on merriam-webster.com increased 1,740 percent year over year in 2022. But something else happened. There was not a single event that raised curiosity significantly, as usually accompanies the chosen word of the year.

Gas lighting was ubiquitous.

“It’s a word that’s gained prominence in the English language so quickly, especially in the last four years, that it actually surprised me and a lot of us,” said Peter Sokolowski, editor at Merriam-Webster, ahead of the unveiling on Monday.

“It was a word that people looked up a lot every day of the year,” he said.

There were deepfakes and the dark web. There were deep states and fake news. And there was a lot of trolling.

Merriam-Webster’s top definition of gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of a person, usually over a period of time, that “causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perceptions of reality, or memories, and typically results in confusion, Loss of confidence and self-esteem, insecurity of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the abuser.”

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

Gaslighting is a vile tool commonly used by relationship abusers — and by politicians and other newsmakers. It can happen between romantic partners, within a larger family unit, and among friends. It can be a corporate tactic or a way to mislead the public. There’s also “medical gaslighting,” when a doctor dismisses a patient’s symptoms or illness as “all in your head.”

Despite its relatively recent notoriety – including Gaslighter, The Chicks’ 2020 album featuring the infectiously angry title single – the word was brought to life more than 80 years ago with Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play Gas Light.

It spawned two film adaptations in the 1940s. One, George Cukor’s 1944 Gaslight, starred Ingrid Bergman as Paula Alquist and Charles Boyer as Gregory Anton. The two marry after a whirlwind romance, and Gregory emerges as a champion gaslighter. Among other things, he insists that her complaints about the constant dimming of the gaslights at her London townhouse are a pipe dream of her troubled mind. It was not.

The death of Angela Lansbury in October sparked some interest in finding the word, Sokolowski said. She played Nancy Oliver, a young maid hired by Gregory who tells her not to bother his “nervous” wife.

The term gaslighting was later used by psychiatrists to clinically describe a form of ongoing coercive control in abusive relationships.

“There’s this implication of willful deception,” Sokolowski said. “And once you’re aware of that deception, it’s not just a simple lie, as in, you know, I didn’t eat the cookies in the cookie jar. It’s something that has a slightly sneakier quality. It may have an idea of ​​a strategy or a long-term plan.”

Merriam-Webster, which sees 100 million monthly page views on its website, chooses its word of the year based solely on data. Sokolowski and his team sort out evergreen words that are looked up most frequently to estimate which word has received a significant boost over the past year.

They don’t slice and dice why people look up words, which can be anything from quick spelling and definition checks to some sort of attempt at inspiration or motivation. Some of the throngs who’ve been searching for “gaslighting” this year might just want to know if it’s a word or two, or if it’s a hyphen.

“Gaslighting,” Sokolowski said, spent all of 2022 in the top 50 words looked up on merriam-webster.com for Top Dog Word of the Year status. Last year’s choice was ‘vaccine’. Rounding out this year’s top 10 are:

  • “Oligarch” driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • “Omicron”, the persistent Covid-19 variant and the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet.
  • “Codify” how to turn abortion rights into federal law.
  • “Queen Consort,” as Camilla, wife of King Charles, has come to be known.
  • “Raid,” as in the search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
  • “Sentient,” with searches prompted by Google to preserve the engineer who claimed an unreleased AI system had become sentient.
  • “Canceling culture”, enough said.
  • “LGBTQIA” for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and asexual, aromantic or agender.
  • “Loamy”, which many Wordle users tried in August, even though the correct word that day was “clown”.

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/the-merriam-webster-word-of-the-year-for-2022-is-42180533.html The Merriam Webster Word of the Year for 2022 is…

Fry Electronics Team

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