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The term "Gaslighting", meaning mind manipulating, grossly misleading, or downright deceitful, has turned out to be Merriam-Webster's word of the year 2022. Lookups for the word increased by 1,740% in 2022 over the year before on merriamwebster.com.

In an interview with The Associated Press, said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's editor at large, said it's a word that has risen so quickly in the English language, especially in the past four years.

"The word has actually come as a surprise to me and to many of us. It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year," Sokolowski told AP.

According to the dictionary Merriam Webster, gaslighting means 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, the uncertainty of one's emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.

It is a heinous tool frequently used by abusers in relationships, and by politicians or other newsmakers. The American company stated that the first known use of ‘gaslighting’ was in 1961. 

Merriam-Webster, which logs 100 million pageviews a month on its site, chooses its word of the year based solely on data, AP reported, adding that Sokolowski and his team weed out evergreen words most commonly looked up to gauge which word received a significant bump over the year before.

“There is this implication of an intentional deception. And once one is aware of that deception, it's not just a straightforward lie, as in, you know, I didn't eat the cookies in the cookie jar. It's something that has a little bit more devious quality to it. It has possibly an idea of strategy or a long-term plan," Sokolowski said. 

The word was also used by mental health practitioners to clinically describe a form of prolonged coercive control in abusive relationships.

 

(With AP inputs)

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