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Word Of The Year Selected By Merriam-Webster, And Its Gaslighting!

"Gaslighting" has been selected as the word of the year by Merriam Webster, the oldest dictionary publisher in the world. According to the company, searches for the word jumped by 1,740 per cent on its website in 2022.

And no wonder why, I mean, the word is everywhere you look (read: social media).

As defined by the dictionary, gaslighting is "the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one's own benefit."

As Merriam-Webster notes, gaslighting is usually more complex and more nefarious than an off-the-cuff lie. The act of gaslighting someone into believing they are wrong is often an integral part of a "larger plan," according to the dictionary.

According to Merriam-Webster, the term "gaslighting" encapsulates a number of other common terms associated with misinformation, including "deepfakes" and "fake news."

Some examples of what gaslighting is shown aptly in movies like The Girl On The Train, Sleeping With The Enemy, The Invisible Man etc.

The Origin And Backstory of the Word "Gaslighting"

In 1938, British playwright Patrick Hamilton wrote Gas Light, never knowing that the word would be used like loose change in the 21st Century.

In 1938, a play called "Gaslight" was produced (a remake of a 1940 film), which is credited with coining the term "gaslighting". In both, an evil man attempts to trick his newlywed wife into thinking she's losing her mind. He does this by telling her that the gaslights in their home, which dim when he is in the attic doing dastardly deeds, aren't dimming.

Because of the film's popularity, the noun "gaslight" became a verb as well. According to Merriam-Webster, gaslighting refers to psychological manipulation of a person over an extended period of time that causes the victim to doubt his or her reality in the context of the film.

Gaslighting has been used to describe lies that are part of larger plans since it is based on the idea of a deliberate conspiracy to mislead. Unlike lying, which tends to be between individuals and fraud, which tends to involve organizations, gaslighting applies both to a personal and a political context.

The company also noted on Tuesday that several other words were among the most frequently searched this year. They are oligarch, omicron, codify, LGBTQIA, sentient, loamy, raid, and queen consort.

In contrast to other commonly searched words, such as "omicron" and "queen consort," which refer to specific events or episodes in 2022, "gaslighting" refers to a phenomenon that exists throughout our lives and isn't fleeting - highlighted CNN - and I agree, 100 per cent!

Story first published: Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 12:11 [IST]
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