'Gaslighting' Is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year

Every year, the world's favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster, releases the word of the year, offering a literary perspective on our society at large and current cultural fixations.

Unsurprisingly, "gaslighting" is the word of 2022, as many have started to turned to the Internet to provide some semblance of logic as to why terrible people do the things they do. Merriam-Webster defines "gaslighting" as "the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one's own advantage."

According to Paper Magazine, the word originally dates back to the 20th century, specifically "a 1938 play and 1944 Oscar-nominated film Gaslight, which portrays a husband's plot to convince his wife that she's losing her mind by telling her that the gaslights in their home, which dim when he's in the attic doing dastardly deeds, are not fading at all." After leaving an emotionally abusive relationship, one often finds themselves replaying past events, questioning their own reality and diminishing their trust in themselves, only to realize they were right all along.

While most conflate the word with lying and love to overuse it, gaslighting entails intentionally deceiving someone and deliberately trying to rewrite history or past events in an attempt to control the other person or erase their own shortcomings. Gaslighting can occur in interpersonal relationships, but also takes place at a wider school as the term has also been associated with the collective amnesia our society assumes when discussing the very real systems of oppression and harm that LGTBQ+ folks, women, people of color and additional underserved groups face.

Hopefully, there will be less of it in 2023.