2022 Word of the Year Named
AP reports that for this year, 2022, “gaslighting” was chosen by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as its word of the year.
The dictionary defines its word of the year as “psychological manipulation over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts,” and interest in it is at a record high. The term was searched on Merriam-Webster’s website 1,740% more than in the previous year.
The extended high volume of searches on Merriam-Webster.com earned “gaslighting” its word of the year status. Merriam-Webster says the selection process is entirely based on data.
While it may be the word of the moment, the modern definition of “gaslighting” dates back to the 1938 hit play Gas Light. The term comes from a 1938 play, and its subsequent 1944 film, in which a husband plays mind games on his wife to try to convince her she’s going insane by telling her that she’s imagining the dimming of the gas lights in their home. “Gaslighting” was rarely used through the years except by those in the psychology community, but started to gradually gain popularity about ten years ago leading to its crowning by the dictionary this year.
Ironically, Gaslighting was Angela Lansbury‘s screen debut, and 78 years later she passed away, the same year the word became the Word of the Year. According to Britannica “Ingrid Bergman portrayed Paula, a young woman who lives with her aunt, a famous opera singer, in London but moves to Italy after her aunt is killed during a burglary. Ten years later, following a brief courtship, she marries the pianist Gregory Anton (played by Charles Boyer), who, unbeknownst to her, is actually the murderer.”
Also included on this year’s list were other words that made their way into the headlines, including oligarch, which saw a 621% increase in 2022, sanction, Armageddon, cancel culture, Omicron, Queen consort, raid, LGBTQIA, and loamy.