“Feminism” is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year

Merriam-Webster has chosen “Feminism” as its Word of the Year, due to the significant increase in searches for feminism’s definition in 2017, the year of the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement.

The definition of feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

Two major spikes in searches for the definition of feminism came in January after the Women’s March, the largest protest in America’s history, and again in February when Kellyanne Conway, adviser to President Trump, declared that she wasn’t a feminist “in the classic sense.”

Merriam-Webster says it wasn’t just political moments that inspired searches for the world. Searches for feminism increased surrounding the 2017 releases of shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and movies like Wonder Woman.

Searches for feminism soared again in the fall, after the #MeToo movement spread like wildfire from social media to the halls of Congress, with women bravely breaking their silence to such an extent that the “silence breakers” were just named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.

Other top contenders for Word of the Year were “recuse” and “complicit,” which was Dictionary.com’s 2017 word of the year. The word “empathy” was also looked up far more times this year than on average, though it couldn’t be tied to any specific events. Searches for “Dotard,” a rare and old fashioned word, spiked after it was used by Kim Jong Un to describe President Trump. “Federalism” spiked during the debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act.


Media Resources:  Vox 12/12/17; CNN 12/12/17; Merriam-Webster.

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