"Gaslighting," the Merriam-Webster "Word of the Year" winner for 2022, has quickly become a buzzword in today's politically charged climate.
But it's not exclusive to politicians condemning other parties and/or hot-take pundits on TV, satellite radio, or Twitter.
The word has also reportedly found a home on TV's "Bachelor in Paradise" program.
The term "gaslighting," according to Merriam-Webster, includes "the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage," and it rates as one of the most searched words in Merriam-Webster's expansive dictionary.
The two previous winners for Merriam-Webster's most interesting word: "Pandemic" in 2020 and "vaccine" in 2021.
Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's editor-at-large, told The Wall Street Journal there wasn't any single news event that propped up the popularity of "gaslighting."
Rather, it's more geared to the voluminous coverage to the word on TV, newspapers, and social media.
"[Gaslighting] sends them to the dictionary," said Sokolowski.
According to Sokolowski, the original definition of "gaslighting" involved a "psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts," and derived from the 1938 play "Gas Light," and the films that followed.
The main plotline, according to Journal: A husband tries to make his wife "believe she is going insane" by incorrectly telling her the gas lights inside the house are not dimming.
Gaslighting is "a fancy way to say 'lying,'" Sokolowski told the Journal. "You're losing a little bit of the subtlety of that original meaning of the word. But that's the way language works. People adopt it, and the word simply takes its own life."
According to Merriam-Webster, the word "omicron" finished a close second to "gaslighting" for the year's top word. It became popular in January, after a spike in searches with the new COVID-19 variant occurred.
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