“Gaslighting” spent all of 2022 in the top 50 words looked up on merriam-webster.com to earn top dog word of the year status, succeeding last year's pick “vaccine.”

Merriam-Webster, which logs 100 million pageviews a month on its site, chooses its word of the year based solely on data, while weeding out evergreen words most commonly looked up.
Merriam-Webster, which logs 100 million pageviews a month on its site, chooses its word of the year based solely on data, while weeding out evergreen words most commonly looked up. (AP)

"Gaslighting" — mind manipulating, grossly misleading, downright deceitful — has become Merriam-Webster's word of the year.

“It’s a word that has risen so quickly in the English language, and especially in the last four years, that it actually came as a surprise to me and to many of us,” said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's editor at large.

“It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year,” he said.

Lookups for the word on merriam-webster.com increased 1,740 percent in 2022 over the year before.

But something else happened. There wasn't a single event that drove significant spikes in the curiosity, as it usually goes with the chosen word of the year.

The gaslighting was pervasive.

READ MORE: 'Vaccine' is Merriam-Webster's 2021 word of the year

The second definition of the word by Merriam-Webster is
The second definition of the word by Merriam-Webster is "the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one's own advantage." (merriam-webster.com)

'Intentional deception'

Gaslighting is a heinous tool frequently used by abusers in relationships — and by politicians and other newsmakers. It can be a corporate tactic, or a way to mislead the public.

There's also “medical gaslighting,” when a health care professional dismisses a patient's symptoms or illness as “all in your head.”

Despite its relatively recent prominence, the word was brought to life more than 80 years ago with “Gas Light,” a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton.

The term gaslighting was later used by mental health practitioners to clinically describe a form of prolonged coercive control in abusive relationships.

“There is this implication of an intentional deception,” Sokolowski said.

“And once one is aware of that deception, it’s not just a straightforward lie, as in, you know, I didn’t eat the cookies in the cookie jar. It’s something that has a little bit more devious quality to it. It has possibly an idea of strategy or a long-term plan.”

Among this year's Top 10 are:

“Oligarch,” driven by Russia's offensive in Ukraine.

“Omicron,” the persistent Covid-19 variant and the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet.

“Queen consort,” what King Charles’ wife, Camilla is newly known as.

“Sentient,” with lookups brought on by Google canning the engineer who claimed an unreleased AI system had become sentient.

“Cancel culture,” enough said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies