Competing online dictionaries have each selected a word of the year.
Merriam-Webster’s choice is feminism, while Dictionary.com’s is complicit.
People looked up the word feminism on Merriam-Webster so much this year that the count increased 70 percent from last year.
Editor Peter Sokolowski told NBC that the spikes occurred early this year around the time of the Women’s March on Washington, then again when Kellyanne Conway spoke at a conservative function in February, then again when the #MeToo hashtag trended. Well-known men were being accused of lewd acts and many women called them out and brought a spotlight to feminism. The release of “Wonder Woman” also sent users to the site.
Feminism was also included in the words of the year for 2015, as Internet users looked up “isms” the most that year.
Sokolowski said the 2017 use of feminism is different than the word as Noah Webster put in the dictionary in 1841.
The current version of feminism is “theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes” or “organized activities on behalf of women’s rights and interests.
When Webster included feminism in the dictionary, he noted its Latin roots for woman and female and defined feminism as “the quality of females.”
On Dictionary.com, searches for complicit grew this year. Although the word isn’t the same as the other dictionary’s choice, both feminism and complicit are linked to many of the same incidents.
In March, Saturday Night Live had a comedy skit featuring Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump promoting a perfume called Complicit.
Ivanka Trump, the next month, said “I don’t know what it means to be complicit,” and so the Internet searching spiked at Dictionary.com for the word complicit. Another spike came with an Arizona senator announced that the time to be complicit needed to end. The senator announced he wouldn’t run again for his seat because of the lack of decency in the administration.
The downfall of Harvey Weinstein and other famous men also showed how the nation had become complicit by not speaking up.
Dictionary.com defines complicit as “choosing to be involved in an illegal and questionable act, especially with others; having complicity.”
Complicit was a runner-up word for Merriam-Webster, as were eight others:
I think it’s a good thing that people have more interest in political and social issues, but I can’t help but feel sad that our world has come to this place of complicity and social strife.
I wanted to know what word I used the most on Facebook so I used an app to figure it out.
My top 5 words were: love, Tripp, Clark, year and Mollohan.