The Times Herald (Norristown, PA)

Gaslightin­g is Merriam-Webster’s word of 2022


NEW YORK >> Gaslightin­g — mind manipulati­ng, grossly misleading, downright deceitful — is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year.

Lookups for the word on merriamweb­ increased 1,740% in 2022 over the year before. But something else happened. There wasn’t a single event that drove significan­t spikes in the curiosity, as it usually goes with the chosen word of the year.

The gaslightin­g was pervasive.

“It’s a word that has risen so quickly in the English language, and especially in the last four years, that it actually came as a surprise to me and to many of us,” said Peter Sokolowski, MerriamWeb­ster’s editor at large, in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s unveiling.

“It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year,” he said.

There 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.”

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