What is the word of the year for 2022? It depends on who you ask.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary people decided on gaslighting (n.): “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage.”
How do they decide? In this case, the word, in this “age of misinformation,” had a 1,740% increase in lookups of the word this year. It’s not a new word. The term actually comes from a 1938 play, Gas Light. The 1944 movie version, Gaslight made it more widely used. In that story, a husband manipulates his wife to make her think she’s actually losing her sense of reality so he can commit her to a mental institution and steal her inheritance.
Cambridge Dictionary chose homer (n.): “an informal American English term for a home run in baseball.” Doesn’t everyone know what a homer/home run is already? So why did they see more than 65,000 searches for homer on May 5. Was it Aaron Judge of the NY Yankees going for the season record? No. That was the day it was the answer to that day’s Wordle. Ninety-five percent of the searches were outside North America. Aha! I guess speakers of British English probably weren’t thrilled to see the answer be American slang.
Speaking of which, the word Wordle itself crowned the top spot as Google’s most searched term globally and in the US in 2022.
A strange nominee comes from the Oxford Languages that picked goblin mode (n.): “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typical in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”
It is a term I have never heard used. It first appeared on Twitter in 2009 but really spiked in February. They say that it comes from our post-lockdown world where the term captures “the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life… People are embracing their inner goblin, and voters choosing ‘goblin mode’ as the Word of the Year tells us the concept is likely here to stay.”
I’m not so sure about goblin ode having legs. There were lots of other possibilities for the 2022 word, including oligarch, Omicron, codify, LGBTQIA, sentient, loamy, raid, Queen Consort, truth-telling, spicy cough, bachelor’s handbag, Barbiecore, bossware, brigading, clapter, e-change, gigafire, hidden homeless, nepo baby, orthosomnia, pirate trail, prebunking, quiet quitting, skin hunger, and yassify.
What is your word of the year for 2022?