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Gaslighting Definitely Isn’t Merriam-Webster’s 2022 Word of the Year

Gaslighting Definitely Isn’t Merriam-Webster’s 2022 Word of the Year

It’s not that big of a deal, but “gaslighting” is the 2022 Word of the Year, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. 

The word gained major popularity this year, and searches for the term on increased by 1,740% from 2021. What makes it even more interesting is that there wasn’t a single event that led to its increase, unlike other popular words for this 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.”

“Gaslighting” may seem like it’s everywhere we look these days, but don’t be, well, gaslighted by gaslighting. The word has a specific meaning; according to Merriam-Webster, it’s the “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.” 

In other words, it’s not simply lying to someone or accidentally misleading a person. Rather, it’s the intentional decision to convince someone that their feelings and perceptions of reality are false, even when they’re true. 

It can be hard to identify the line between lies and gaslighting, and many do both well. For instance, popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been accused of gaslighting viewers this year about his views on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Days before Russia invaded Ukraine, Carlson openly expressed why he didn’t hate Putin and why Russia deserved support. Then, after the invasion, Carlson questioned why people were saying he supported Russia. 

“It’s very common. You hear it every day,” Carlson said while gaslighting viewers. “The question is: Why are they saying that? It doesn’t make sense.”


Gaslighting goes beyond trolling, and it even goes beyond lying for lying’s sake. It is a heinous tool used by abusers and people in power to stay in power — from commentators to politicians to significant others. It may not be a new word or even a new tactic, but it is one that people are beginning to notice.

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