“Gaslighting” is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year. It means behaviour that’s mind-manipulating, grossly misleading, downright deceitful. Lookups for the word on merriam-webster.com increased 1,740 percent in 2022 over the year before. It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year.
There also were deepfakes and the dark web. There were deep states and fake news. And there was a whole lot of trolling.
Merriam-Webster’s top definition for gaslighting 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.”
More broadly, the dictionary defines the word thusly: “The act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage.”
The term gaslighting has been used by mental health practitioners to clinically describe a form of prolonged coercive control in abusive relationships.
Merriam-Webster, which logs 100 million pageviews a month on its site, chooses its word of the year based solely on data. “Gaslighting,” spent all of 2022 in the top 50 words looked up on merriam-webster.com to earn top dog word of the year status. Last year’s pick was “vaccine.”
Rounding out this year’s Top 10 are:
· Queen consort
· Cancel culture