Merriam-Webster announced that the 2022 Word of the Year is gaslighting. The oldest publisher of dictionaries in the United States said there was a 1740% increase in people looking up the term gaslighting, which is defined as: "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."
Merriam-Webster said the term dates back to a 1938 play titled Gaslighting, written by Patrick Hamilton. The play, which later became a movie, involves a man trying to convince his wife she is going insane by telling her the gas lamps in their house are not dimming when in reality, his work in the attic is causing them to flicker.
"In recent years, with the vast increase in channels and technologies used to mislead, gaslighting has become the favored word for the perception of deception. This is why (trust us!) it has earned its place as our Word of the Year," the dictionary publisher wrote.
Merriam-Webster also noted several other words that saw spikes in searches over the past year, including oligarch, omicron, codify, LGBTQIA, and sentient.