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‘Feminism’ Is Merriam-Webster’s 2017 Word of the Year

Dictionary.com opts to go with “complicit” for its word of the year

feminism merriam-webster's word of the year

Women protestors march in a rally against US President Donald Trump following his inauguration, in Sydney on January 21, 2017. A Women's March kicked off, the first of a series of global protests in defence of women's rights, as demonstrators rally against Donald Trump, who was sworn in as the 45th president of United States on Januray 20.

Andrew Murray/AFP/Getty Images

Late Monday night, Merriam-Webster announced its pick for 2017’s word of the year: Feminism.

“2017 saw both a sustained rise in ‘feminism’ lookups and a number of event-driven spikes,” the dictionary’s official Twitter account shared. “‘Feminism’ is our #WordOfTheYear.”

According to Merriam-Webster.com, searches for the term spiked at several key moments throughout the year, beginning with the Women’s March on Washington, DC in January – as well as other related marches held concurrently around the globe – and then again with “follow-up discussions regarding whether the march was feminist, and what kind of feminism was represented by organizers and attendees.”

Users also searched the term when Kellyanne Conway said during an interview that she didn’t consider herself a feminist, and then again with the release of empowering TV series and films, including The Handmaid’s Tale and Wonder Woman.

In recent months, “feminism” has also taken the form of the #MeToo movement, with women coming forward with their stories of sexual misconduct and assault, calling out men in power like Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and President Trump for their alleged behavior.

“‘Feminism’ was looked up 70% more in 2017 than in 2016. And it was looked up a ton in 2016,” the Merriam-Webster Twitter account tweeted.

Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large for Merriam-Webster, said in a statement that “no one word can encapsulate all the news, events, or stories of a given year. But when we look back at the past twelve months and combine an analysis of words that have been looked up much more frequently than during the previous year along with instances of intense spikes of interest because of news events, we see that one word stands out in both categories.”

Other highly searched words on Merriam-Webster.com include “recuse,” “empathy,” “dotard,” “syzygy” and “gyro.”

Dictionary.com’s word of the year strikes a bit of a different tone – on Monday, it declared that “complicit” was its pick for word of the year, noting that it is “indicative of larger trends that resonated throughout the year.”

The online dictionary pointed to big ongoing news events such as Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections, Trump’s decision to pull the country out of the Paris Climate Agreement and most recently, the growing number of industries being thrust into the spotlight due to allegations of sexual misconduct.

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