November 28, 2022

Merriam-Webster dictionary names ‘gaslighting’ as most searched word in 2022

By Biodun Busari

American dictionary Merriam-Webster has named “gaslighting” as the word of the year saying the searches for the word saw a 1740 per cent rise in 2022.

Gaslighting which means psychologically manipulating, grossly manipulating or downright deceitful behaviour was named the word of the year on the dictionary’s website on Monday.

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Gaslighting was first used 80 years ago in a 1938 play titled “Gas Light” by Patrick Hamilton.

Merriam-Webster in an official statement revealing the origin of the word ‘gaslight’ said it was colourful.

The plot of the play involved a man attempting to make his wife believe that she was 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,” the statement added.

It then said, later on, the word was used among psychiatrists and mental health practitioners to clinically describe emotional manipulation in abusive relationships.

“The word (gaslighting) has risen so quickly in the English language, and especially in the last four years, that it has actually come as a surprise to me and many other editors,” said Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large of Merriam-Webster.

In addition, other words that made it to the top list in 2022 were “sentient”, “omicron” and “queen consort”.

Meanwhile, Oxford has shortlisted “Metaverse” as 2022’s word of the year. As stated by the Oxford University Press Metaverse is a “virtual reality environment in which users can interact with one another’s avatar in an immersive way.”