It means downright deceitful. Manipulating. Misleading. Merriam-Webster has named its word of 2022 - "gaslighting."
The official definition for "gaslighting," according to Merriam-Webster, is the psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time, that "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."
According to Merriam-Webster, there were 1,740% more people searching for the definition of the word in 2022 than there were in 2021.
In a world full of deepfakes, the dark web and fake news, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large Peter Sokolowski said he was surprised that there was not a single event that drove significant spikes in the curiosity, as it usually goes with the chosen word of the year.
"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 to many of us," said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large.
The word was brought to light more than 80 years ago with "Gas Light," a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton.
Later, mental health professionals used the term "gaslighting" to clinically denote a prolonged form of coercive control in abusive relationships.
Based on data, Merriam-Webster selects its word of the year.