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MANILA – “Gaslighting”, a term looked up frequently everyday, was chosen word of the year by Merriam-Webster.

The top definition 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 the online dictionary on Monday.  

Simply put, gaslighting means mind manipulation and can be a very effective tool to control an individual or a situation.

Lines like "hindi totoo yan" (that’s not true) and "gawa-gawa mo lang ‘yan" (it’s all in your mind) make a person doubtful.

The word has become more significant at this time and age when fake news, misinformation and disinformation are rampant, especially in social media.

“2022 saw a 1,740 percent increase in lookups for gaslighting, with high interest throughout the year,” Merriam-Webster said in its report. “In recent years, with the vast increase in channels and technologies used to mislead, gaslighting has become the favored word for the perception of deception. This is why it has earned its place as our Word of the Year.”

Aside from gaslighting, Merriam-Webster listed other words with the most number of hits or lookups in its site, among them oligarch, Omicron, codify and LGBTQIA.

Oligarch is “one of a class of individuals who through private acquisition of state assets amassed great wealth that is stored especially in foreign accounts and properties and who typically maintains close links to the highest government circles,” a word driven by the Russia-Ukraine war.

Russian business oligarchs were said to have rapidly accumulated wealth in the 1990s via the Russian privatization that followed the dissolution of the former Soviet Union.

Omicron is one the most widespread forms of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variant, according to the World Health Organization, and was most searched in early January.

The search for codify increased by 193 percent this year and literally means “to make a code”.

Based on Merriam-Webster’s database, it had the most searches on June 30 when US President Joe Biden endorsed altering Senate filibuster rules in order to codify or turn into federal law the right to abortion, resulting in an 8,304 percent increase in searches.

LGBTQIA stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual” and is the most recent of the older LGBT abbreviation.

Other words that emerged most searched are sentient (responsive to or conscious of sense impressions), loamy (denoting fertile soil of clay and sand containing humus) and Queen Consort (the wife of a reigning king) brought about by the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8. (PNA)