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No lies here: 'Gaslighting' is Merriam-Webster's 2022 Word of the Year

By SAAB LARIOSA Published Nov 28, 2022 7:27 pm

Merriam-Webster online dictionary has hailed 'gaslighting' as its 2022 Word of the Year.

Defined as the "psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time," gaslighting was searched over 1,740% more in 2022.

The term also rose to fame amid the conversation on abusive relationships, as it "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."

It's like telling someone your feelings and them invalidating it, saying you are being "too sensitive" or acting crazy so that you lose trust in your own beliefs and question reality.

"Gaslighting can be a very effective tool for the abuser to control an individual," said Merriam Webster's Melissa Spino.

"It's done slowly so the victim writes off the event as a one-off or oddity and doesn't realize they are being controlled and manipulated."

Merriam-Webster's editor at large, Peter Sokolowski also shared with the Associated Press that "[gaslighting] was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year."

The term originated from the 1938 British stage play titled Gas Light. It tells the story of a married couple named Jack and Bella Manningham.

Throughout the play, Jack is determined to deceive his wife until she goes insane, from telling outrageous lies to convincing her that the gas light in their home was dimming even when it wasn't.

Meanwhile, other words included in the Merriam-Webster 2022 Words of the Year are as follows:

  • Oligarch
  • Omicron
  • Codify
  • Queen consort
  • Raid
  • Sentient
  • Cancel culture
  • Loamy