Per the dictionary, gaslighting is “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.” According to Merriam-Webster, usage of the word skyrocketed by 1,740% throughout 2022.
The word was first used in the 20th century. However, it was defined more so as long-term manipulation in which an individual begins to question their own perception.
Now, gaslighting is considered a much broader act.
The origin of the word is a 1938 play and movie adaptation in which a man manipulates his wife into believing she is losing her sanity. The gas lights in their home continuously dim due to his actions, but he insists that the lights are not dimming. The wife ultimately begins to question her own perception.
Because of its broad application, the dictionary says the word has become the word of choice to describe deception.
The 2021 word of the year was “vaccine” as the world continued to encourage vaccination to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.