Merriam-Webster names ‘gaslighting’ the word of the year 2022

Merriam-Webster names ‘gaslighting’ the word of the year 2022. 2022 saw a 1740% increase in lookups for the word ‘gaslighting’, with high interest throughout the year. In an age of misinformation, thus fake news, conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls and deepfakes, the word ‘gaslighting’ is rightly chosen. To me, ‘gaslighting’ is the winner of the year, due to another reason, namely how we need to work on our legislation all around the globe to make psychological abuse punishable. Coercive control includes gaslighting and is a severe breach in terms of human rights.

‘Gaslighting’ is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage.” A broader definition, also used in the domain of psychological abuse such as narcissism or coercive control: “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their 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”.

Its origins are colorful: the term comes from the title of a 1938 play and the movie based on that play, the plot of which involves a man attempting to make his wife believe that she is going insane. His mysterious activities in the attic cause the house’s gaslights to dim, but he insists to his wife that the lights are not dimming and that she can’t trust her perceptions. Recently, 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 it has earned its place as the Word of the Year 2022.

Source: Merriam-Webster.