This Is Merriam-Webster’s 2022 Word of the Year
Discover the Merriam-Webster Word of the Year for 2022—and why it might have gained so much momentum.
Whether you consider yourself a word nerd who’s always looking for new words in the dictionary or just enjoy a good end-of-year roundup, you’re going to want to listen up: The Merriam-Webster Word of the Year just dropped. To select the Word of the Year, Merriam-Webster uses data collected on the site to discover which terms experienced a major bump in search. Often, the Merriam-Webster Word of the Year has a cultural implication, too—take 2021’s Word of the Year “vaccine,” for instance.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2022 Merriam-Webster Word of the Year.
What was Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year?
The Merriam-Webster Word of the Year for 2022 is “gaslighting.” According to Merriam-Webster, the dictionary definition of gaslighting is, “The act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage,” or “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…” This year, the word experienced a 1,740% increase in lookups. Interest remained high throughout the entirety of the year, too. It’s safe to assume this word won’t be removed from the dictionary anytime soon!
Because the Merriam-Webster Word of the Year is driven by data, it’s obvious that plenty of people were searching for this term in 2022. Traditionally, a singular event spurs people to search for a word that leads to its selection, such as “vaccine” in 2021. However, the same can’t be said for “gaslighting.”
It’s possible that because “gaslighting” is vaguely connected to other buzzy terms such as “fake news” and is applicable to personal relationships, politics and beyond, people were curious about it in 2022. However, it’s impossible to identify just one reason because Merriam-Webster doesn’t track why visitors are searching the term—just that they are.
What are the other Words of the Year?
While “gaslighting” is the primary Word of the Year, Merriam-Webster released several other popular terms that emerged as top searches in 2022. Some of the other words of the year include:
Since the World Health Organization uses the Greek alphabet to differentiate the variants of COVID-19, many people searched “Omicron,” the most current adaptation of the virus. This variant was one of the most pervasive types of COVID-19 this year. The term was searched the most in early January due to a surge of Omicron-variant COVID-19 infections and in November when information about the Omicron booster was released.
Interest in this word spiked in March 2022 due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As the United States and other countries put sanctions on Russian oligarchs, several people searched the term to understand what it means.
This is an acronym which, according to Merriam-Webster, stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (one’s sexual or gender identity), intersex, and asexual/aromantic/agender.” It was frequently searched during June, which is Pride Month.
When Queen Elizabeth II died this year, announcements of her death mentioned King Charles III and identified his wife Camilla as the Queen Consort. That word rapidly became the subject of many Merriam-Webster searches.
This word gained popularity in June when an engineer at Google stated that a company AI chatbot had human-esque consciousness. As a result, lookups of the term went up by 480%.
This term refers to the process which allows Congress to create laws. When Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, searches for the word increased by a massive 193%.
- Merriam-Webster: “Gaslighting“
- Merriam-Webster: “Word of the Year 2022“