‘Gaslighting’ is Merriam Webster’s 2022 word of the year

Published November 28, 2022, 3:36 PM

by Jessica Pag-iwayan

Any guesses why?

We are about to bid farewell to 2022 because many “Word of the Year” from various dictionary titles are now starting to pop up. Among the first ones to drop is Merriam-Webster. 

Photo from Unsplash.com

And guess what? Its word of the year is none other than “Gaslighting.” According to the publication, this year, they saw a 1,740 percent increase in lookups of the word. Pretty high, isn’t it? 

“In this age of misinformation—of ‘fake news,’ conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deepfakes—gaslighting has emerged as a word for our time,” its website says. “Its origins are colorful: the term comes from the title of a 1938 play and the movie based on that play, the plot of which involves a man attempting to make his wife believe that she is going insane. His mysterious activities in the attic cause the house’s gas lights to dim, but he insists to his wife that the lights are not dimming and that she can’t trust her own perceptions.”

It is also reported that gaslighting was first used in the mid-20th century, referring to a kind of deception. 

“But in recent years, we have seen the meaning of gaslighting refer also to something simpler and broader: ‘the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for a personal advantage.’ In this use, the word is at home with other terms relating to modern forms of deception and manipulation, such as fake news, deepfake, and artificial intelligence,” it says. “The idea of a deliberate conspiracy to mislead has made gaslighting useful in describing lies that are part of a larger plan. Unlike lying, which tends to be between individuals, and fraud, which tends to involve organizations, gaslighting applies in both personal and political contexts.” 

So, did you also search for the meaning of this word this year?

This story was first published on mblife.ph.


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