‘Gaslighting’ emerged as the word of the year for 2022 for the American publishing company, Merriam-Webster. It is the oldest dictionary publisher in the United States that also publishes reference books along with dictionaries. Every year, a ten-words list is published by the dictionary-publishing company that features ten words of the year from the English language.
According to Merriam-Webster, ‘gaslighting’ means " 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, the uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.” In simpler words, gaslighting is the act or practice of grossly misleading someone for their own advantage.
The year 2022 saw a 1,740% search rise for the term ‘gaslighting’ which shows how people were highly interested in knowing about the real meaning of the word. Reportedly, the word originated after the title of a 1938 play called “Gas Light" by Patrick Hamilton, and the movie based on the same came into the limelight. The plot involved a man who attempted to make his wife believe that she was going insane. His mysterious actions in the attic caused the house’s lights to dim after which he insisted to his wife that the lights were not dimming and she must stop trusting her own perceptions. Thus, ‘gaslighting’ was first used in the 20th century and it referred to a kind of deception like that in the movie.
Thus, in recent times, gaslighting applies to both personal and political contexts which depicts the lies that are a part of a much broader plan. Meanwhile, other top searches in 2022 were “oligarch", “omicron", “codify", etc.
While “gaslighting" became Merriam-Webster’s word of 2022, do you want to know about the words with the highest lookups in the past ten years on the American publishing website? Scroll down and take a look at the listicle below!
Merriam-Webster’s Words of the Previous 10 Years
2015: -ism (suffix)
2012: Socialism, Capitalism
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