NEW YORK (AP) — Merriam-Webster has chosen “gaslighting” as its word of the year for 2022.
Lookups for “gaslighting” on the dictionary company’s website increased this year by 1,740% over 2021.
Merriam-Webster’s Peter Sokolowski tells The Associated Press exclusively ahead of Monday’s unveiling that lookups were pervasive all year long. Typically there’s a single event that drives searches.
The word refers to a form of psychological coercion. Here is the entry from Merriam-Webster
“1: 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.
“2: the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.”
Merriam-Webster, chooses its word of the year based solely on data. Sokolowski and his team weed out evergreen words most commonly looked up to gauge which word received a significant bump over the year before.
Central Oregon Daily News contributed to this report.