Gaslighting is the 2022 word of the year

We surveyed over 70 students using words that made the finals for word of the year by Merriam- Webster, Collins English Dictionary, and Oxford English dictionary.

We surveyed over 70 students using words that made the finals for word of the year by Merriam- Webster, Collins English Dictionary, and Oxford English dicitonary.

Logan Swain

What word sums up 2022?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it’s gaslighting, which it defines as “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.”

Merriam-Webster’s choice was not subjective; according to the Associated Press, it was the word that saw the greatest increase in searches over the previous year—with the number of queries surging by 1740%.

Gaslighting is not a new actor on the cultural stage. The American Dialect Society deemed it the “most useful” word of 2016.

And its origins date from even further back—the plot line of a 1944 movie involved a man who convinces his wife she is going insane by manipulating her memories and perception of events. The movie’s title? Gaslight.

The word has found recent relevance,
however.
“It spiked in popularity as it became a frequently used word on multiple social media platforms,” junior Carmen Stangis said. “In real life, it has made its way into conversations as people describe their relationships, applied in a variety of contexts that may make the word
deceptive, comedic, or emotional.”

Merriam-Webster is not the only publication that chooses an annual word. Collins English Dictionary, a British publication, selected permacrisis as the word that best represents the year, citing a calendar crammed with chaotic happenings.

“I think permacrisis is very fitting for this year,” junior Emilie Thoreson said, “because of the enormous human rights issues we are facing around the world, the
war in Ukraine, SCOTUS [Supreme Court] decisions, and worsening climate change that made itself very apparent in this summer’s heat waves.”

“I think that this word reflects the times, as the world seems full of political instability and economic uncertainty,” junior Finley Younger added.

Meanwhile, Oxford polled the public, who reported that goblin mode, a term popularized by social media, was the word that best describes the past year.

According to junior Ellery Kaye, going goblin mode “is all about rejecting social
norms and being yourself.”

Junior Jack Haskin connected to the
word on a personal level.

“Goblin mode really sums up 2022 for me,” he said. “The first time I went goblin mode, I realized how powerful of a tool it really is. Long day at work? Go goblin mode. Got a lot of homework? Go goblin mode. Going goblin mode has significantly
changed my life.”