Merriam-Webster.com is an online dictionary. Every year, the dictionary chooses a top word of the year. Gaslighting was the top word of 2022.
The number of times a word is looked up in the dictionary helps decide the word of the year. Searches for ’gaslighting’ increased 1,740 per cent in 2022.
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is when someone lies to make another person question their own thoughts, beliefs and memories. They want to make the other person doubt themselves. They want to have more control over that person. It is a type of emotional abuse.
When people are gaslighting someone, they might say things like:
- That never happened.
- I never said that.
- You’re imagining things.
Over time, victims of gaslighting will lose trust in themselves. They can feel confused, lose confidence and feel unsure about what’s real. They become more dependent on the person who is gaslighting them.
History of the word
Gaslight was the name of a 1944 movie, based on a play.
It is about a man who tries to trick his wife into thinking she doesn’t know what is real so he can steal from her.
When the man goes out, the woman sees the gaslights dim. The man dims the lights, but he tells her she is just imagining it.
He plays tricks on her for a long time. She feels confused. She starts to believe him. She thinks she is imagining things.
Adapted from Merriam-Webster and Wikipedia Commons • Photo: Wikimedia Commons