'Gaslighting' is Merriam-Webster's word of 2022 - 'It was looked up frequently every single day'

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Photo: tatianazaets/Getty Images
  • Merriam-Webster has revealed that their word of the year for 2022 is 'gaslighting'.
  • The term describes the psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time.
  • According to Merriam-Webster's editor at large, Peter Sokolowski, 'gaslighting' was searched frequently every single day throughout the year.

"Gaslighting" is Merriam-Webster's word of the year for 2022.

The term is described as: "The psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time."

According to Merriam-Webster, gaslighting "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."

READ MORE | How to spot gaslighting in your relationship

Searches for the word increased by 1 740% on the Merriam-Webster website compared to 2021.

"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 many of us," Merriam-Webster's editor at large, Peter Sokolowski said in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, according to NBC.

"It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year," he continued.

READ MORE | Here's what gaslighting looks like in marriages

The term was first penned over 80 years ago in the 1938 play Gas Light by Patrick Hamilton.

Years later, the word would be adopted by mental health practitioners to describe a type of prolonged coercive control in an abusive relationship. 

Those relationships can extend beyond romantic partners and can include friends, family and even politicians, media and corporations.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24