Inside the Beltway: ‘Gaslighting’ named Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year


It is an annual occurrence of note.

Merriam Webster Dictionary has proclaimed that “gaslighting” is its official 2022 “Word of the Year,” basing its judgment on the number of times a certain word is looked up by the general public.

Gaslighting won.

The term has been bandied about in the news media and political circles quite a bit this year, for better or worse.

“In this age of misinformation — of ‘fake news,’ conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deepfakes — gaslighting has emerged as a word for our time. A driver of disorientation and mistrust, gaslighting is ‘the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.’ 2022 saw a 1,740% increase in lookups for gaslighting, with high interest throughout the year,” the dictionary said in its rationale.

The word originally referred to a kind of psychological manipulation which results in confusion and alarm, best known for its portrayal by Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 movie “Gaslight.” But it’s gone far beyond that.

“In recent years, we have seen the meaning of gaslighting refer also to something simpler and broader: ‘the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for a personal advantage.’ In this use, the word is at home with other terms relating to modern forms of deception and manipulation, such as fake news, deepfake, and artificial intelligence,” the rationale noted.

“The idea of a deliberate conspiracy to mislead has made gaslighting useful in describing lies that are part of a larger plan. Unlike lying, which tends to be between individuals, and fraud, which tends to involve organizations, gaslighting applies in both personal and political contexts. It’s at home in formal and technical writing as well as in colloquial use,” the dictionary advised.

“Gaslighting has become the favored word for the perception of deception. This is why (trust us!) it has earned its place as our Word of the Year,” it concluded.


So Mike Lindell — the likable founder of MyPillow — would like to become chairman of the Republican National Committee.

That should be a most interesting endeavor. The press, however, is now in full cry, chasing after Mr. Lindell with plenty of commentary. Just a few headlines:

“Mike Lindell’s potential run for RNC chair mocked: ‘I don’t trust this idiot to fix a cup of coffee’” (The Wrap); “Mike Lindell says ‘God willing,’ he will challenge Ronna McDaniel for RNC chair” (The Hill); and “Pillow Fight: Mike Lindell announces challenge for RNC chair” (Washington Examiner).


Talk radio is often a very handy gauge of public interest. And politics appears to top the list of popular subject matter on hundreds of radio stations around the nation.

“Gauging how Republicans feel about former President Donald Trump’s bid for the White House in 2024 and the controversy over Trump’s dinner with Ye and White Nationalist Nick Fuentes; the jockeying for power ahead of the next Congress and the runoff election between Georgia U.S. Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker” are leading the conversations around the nation, according to Talkers Magazine, an industry source which carefully tracks the actual subject matter on a daily basis.

What comes next in the popularity derby?

“Inflation, supply chain issues and fears of a recession; the large-scale protests in China over the highly restrictive COVID lockdowns; Russia’s continued shelling in Ukraine; the Thanksgiving holiday and the beginning of the holiday shopping season; and the World Cup tournament also were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio,” Talkers advised.


The Center for Gun Violence Solutions, in collaboration with the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is planning a virtual symposium on “the complex and deadly intersection of white supremacy, political violence, guns and the Second Amendment.”

The event is planned for Feb. 9.

“Research experts, impacted communities, and policymakers who are engaged in this work will come together to discuss tangible solutions to mitigate the cycle of racism and hatred,” the host organization said in a statement shared with the Beltway.

“The Center for Gun Violence Solutions combines the expertise of the country’s most respected gun violence researchers with the skills of the nation’s most experienced gun violence prevention advocates. We develop and apply scientific research to identify a range of innovative gun violence solutions and to advocate for systemic changes. This combination creates a unique opportunity to turn public health research into policy action that reduces all forms of gun violence and saves lives,” the host organization says in its mission statement.


Some continue to wonder whether former President Donald Trump will stage more of his signature, jumbo-sized rallies before the year is over. It is still a mystery. His official calendar bears no dates or information.

Presidential hopeful and former Vice President Mike Pence, however, will journey to New Hampshire on Dec. 12 to promote his new book “So Help Me God” in Manchester and New Castle.

Will he reveal his plans? Stay tuned.


• 26% of full- and part-time employees in the U.S. say they are “very” or “moderately” concerned about being exposed to COVID-19 at work.

• 38% of Democrats, 26% of independents and 9% of Republicans agree.

• 33% of women and 21% of men also agree.

• 27% of those who are on-site employees, 31% of those who are on a “hybrid” work schedule, and 21% of those who exclusively work remotely also agree.

• 29% of those aged 18-34 years, 26% of those aged 35-54 and 22% of those 55 and older also agree.

SOURCE: A Gallup poll of 1,174 U.S. adults employed full or part time by an employer conducted Oct. 11-19 and released Nov. 22.

• Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected]


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