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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year Is as Grim as You'd Expect

The online dictionary rounds up the top words searched in 2022.

An image of hands connected to strings wrapped around a man's head
"Gaslighting" is Merriam-Webster's word of 2022.
Getty

American online dictionary Merriam-Webster has named its most-searched word of 2022. It isn't the most optimistic, to say the least.

"Gaslighting" topped the dictionary's lookups, meaning "the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one's own advantage."

Lookups for gaslighting increased by 1,740% for 2022, with "high interest" throughout the year, according to Merriam-Webster. In this age of conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls and deepfakes, it isn't surprising gaslighting topped the list.

Second on the dictionary's increasingly grim tally is "oligarch," meaning "rule by the few." With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the UK and the US placing sanctions on Russian oligarchs, lookups for the word spiked 621% in March.

Next: "Omicron," the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet, used by the World Health Organization to designate the most recent variant of the COVID-19 virus.

Other words rounding out the list include:

  • Codify -- "refers to a process by which Congress can make laws."
  • LGBTQIA -- "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (one's sexual or gender identity), intersex, and asexual/aromantic/agender."
  • Sentient -- "responsive to or conscious of sense impressions."
  • Loamy -- "consisting of loam, a soil consisting of a friable mixture of varying proportions of clay, silt, and sand."
  • Raid -- "a sudden invasion by officers of the law."
  • Queen Consort -- "the wife of a reigning king."