It means downright deceitful. Manipulating. Misleading. Merriam-Webster has named its word of 2022 – “gaslighting.”
The official definition for “gaslighting,” according to Merriam-Webster, is the 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.”
Merriam-Webster said searches for the definition of the word on its website was up 1,740% in 2022 over the year before.
FILE – "Gaslighting" has been named Merriam-Webester’s word of 2022.
(Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
In a world full of deepfakes, the dark web and fake news, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large Peter Sokolowski said he was surprised that there was not a single event that drove significant spikes in the curiosity, as it usually goes with the chosen word of the year.
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“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,” said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.
FILE – Merriam-Webster says it picks its words of the year based on data.
The word was brought to life more than 80 years ago with “Gas Light,” a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton.
The term gaslighting was later used by mental health practitioners to clinically describe a form of prolonged coercive control in abusive relationships.
Merriam-Webster chooses its word of the year based on data.
‘PANDEMIC’ NAMED MERRIAM-WEBSTER’S 2020 WORD OF THE YEAR
FILE- Lookups for the word on merriam-webster.com increased 1,740% in 2022 over the year before.
Sokolowski told The Associated Press that “gaslighting” spent all of 2022 in the top 50 words looked up on merriam-webster.com.
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Last year, Merriam-Webster named “vaccine” as its word of the year. “Pandemic” was Merriam-Webster’s word of the year in 2020.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.