Merriam Webster Word Of The Year 2022 And What It's Been Before
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Merriam Webster Word Of The Year 2022 And What It's Been Before

Jasmyne Jeffery December 1, 2022

Merriam-Webster has announced its Word of The Year for 2022 and they’re not lying. But what other words have been Word of The Year before?

Since 2003, the American company has announced a word of the year. Over the years, the process of picking a word has changed. When it began, the company analysed page hits and searches through their website. This changed in 2006 when it let the public vote on an online poll. However, since 2008 these two processes have been combined, with the list only being composed of those most searched throughout the year.

What Is The Merriam-Webster Word Of The Year 2022?

The dictionary company announced that gaslighting is its word of the year for 2022. Other contenders were sentient, omicron and queen consort.

Merriam-Webster said it saw an increase of 1740 per cent in searches of gaslighting this year with constant interest throughout the year.

The word comes from the name of a play where a husband psychologically manipulates his wife into thinking she is insane. His antics cause the house’s gas lights to dim, which he convinces his wife is all in her head. In the mid-20th century, gaslighting was defined as psychological manipulation over a long period of time which caused uncertainty in one’s mental stability.

If that sounds unfamiliar to you, that’s because in recent years the definition has become much broader. Nowadays, its meaning is more along the lines of knowingly deceiving or misleading someone, particularly for personal advantage.

The term has been used frequently in a political sense to describe the lies of a much bigger plan, involving organisations and political parties. The English language has an unnamable amount of words for lying, but gaslighting is definitely the contemporary word of choice.

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Previous Merriam-Webster Words Of The Year

Of course, there’s been plenty of words that have topped the list since 2003. All of these have given an incredible insight into what was trending or what our concerns were for that year. Here is the full list and their definitions.

2003: Democracy

Noun. A state governed by the people or by officials elected by the people

2004: Blog

Noun. An Online journal where the writer presents a record of activities, thoughts, or beliefs.

2005: Integrity

Noun. Adherence to moral or ethical principles; incorruptibility.

2006: Truthiness

Noun. Truth coming from the gut, not books; preferring to believe what you wish to believe, rather than what is known to be true.

2007: W00t

Interjection. Slang, used to express happiness or excitement, is usually used in online conversation. Typically spelt with a double zero.

2008: Bailout

Noun. The provision of financial help to a corporation or country which otherwise would be on the brink of bankruptcy. A rescue from financial distress.

2009: Admonish

Verb. To express warning or disapproval, especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner.

2010: Austerity

Noun. The severity of manners or life; extreme rigour or strictness; harsh discipline.

2011: Pragmatic

Adjective. Practical, concerned with making decisions and actions that are useful in practice, not just theory

2012: Socialism and Capitalism

Socialism – Noun. Any of various economic and political philosophies that support social equality, collective decision-making, distribution of income based on contribution and public ownership of productive capital and natural resources, as advocated by socialists.

Capitalism – Noun. A socio-economic system based on private property rights, including the private ownership of resources or capital, with economic decisions made largely through the operation of a market unregulated by the state.

2013: Science

Photo by Hans Reniers on Unsplash

Noun. Knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.

2014: Culture

Noun. The beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time.

2015: -ism

Suffix. A suffix that forms abstract nouns of action, state, condition, or doctrine. Forming nouns with the sense of belief in the superiority of one over another. Forming nouns with the sense ‘discrimination or prejudice against.

2016: Surreal

Adjective. Marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.

2017: Feminism

Noun. The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.

2018: Justice

Noun. The maintenance or administration of what is just, especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.

2019: They

Pronoun. Used to refer to a single person whose gender is intentionally not revealed, or —Used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.

2020: Pandemic

Noun. An outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population.

2021: Vaccine

Noun. A preparation that is administered (as by injection) to stimulate the body’s immune response against a specific infectious agent or disease.

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time Entertainment and News Writer on university-themed website Freshered and HITC, and joined the company having previously worked in a freelance role. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger and graduated in 2022 with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Now, she puts her creativity to use reviewing university bars, Love Island episodes and the latest apps any 18-25-year-old is using.