2022 Words of the Year

2022 Words of the Year title=
2022 Words of the Year
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By the edhat staff

Esteemed dictionaries have revealed their top words of the year for 2022 and they are all over the place.

We can't make sense of a theme between them, but maybe you can!

Here's the top words of the year:


Merriam-Webster has identified their word of the year as: Gaslighting.

Gaslighting is defined as “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.” The dictionary states they saw a 1740% increase in lookups for gaslighting, with high interest throughout the year.

The term comes from the title of a 1938 play and the movie based on that play, the plot of which involves a man attempting to make his wife believe that she is going insane. His mysterious activities in the attic cause the house’s gas lights to dim, but he insists to his wife that the lights are not dimming and that she can’t trust her own perceptions.

But in recent years, the meaning of gaslighting has been used to mean something simpler and broader similar to deception and manipulation, such as fake news, deepfake, and artificial intelligence.

"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," the dictionary states.

gaslighting [ˈgas-ˌlī-tiŋ ] noun.
1. 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


Dictionary.com has defined the 2022 Word of the Year as: Woman.

This year, searches for the word woman on Dictionary.com spiked significantly in relation to separate high-profile events.

"Our selection of woman as our 2022 Word of the Year reflects how the intersection of gender, identity, and language dominates the current cultural conversation and shapes much of our work as a dictionary," the website states.

During the height of the lookups for woman on Dictionary.com in 2022, searches for the word increased more than 1,400%. Subsequent spikes eventually resulted in double the typical annual search volume for the word.

Specific women also dominated the news cycle this year, the death of Queen Elizabeth II captured the world's attention. As did the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of the Iranian government’s so-called morality police, sparking outrage and a protest movement that has been primarily led by women. 

woman [ woom–uhn ] noun.
1. an adult female person.


The Cambridge Dictionary has announced "homer" as its word of the year.

The informal American English term for a home run in baseball has apparently left non-American players of Wordle feeling confused and frustrated. According to the U.K. dictionary, Wordle players flooded their website to try and understand its meaning. 

homer [ˈhoʊ.mɚ] noun.
1. short for home run : a point scored in baseball when you hit the ball, usually out of the playing field, and are able to run around all the bases at one time to the starting base

Goblin mode

The Oxford Dictionary has chosen the slang term of "goblin mode" as its word of the year.

‘Goblin mode’ – a slang term, often used in the expressions ‘in goblin mode’ or ‘to go goblin mode’ – is ‘a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.’

"Although first seen on Twitter in 2009, goblin mode went viral on social media in February 2022, quickly making its way into newspapers and magazines after being tweeted in a mocked-up headline. The term then rose in popularity over the months following as Covid lockdown restrictions eased in many countries and people ventured out of their homes more regularly. Seemingly, it captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life’, or rebelled against the increasingly unattainable aesthetic standards and unsustainable lifestyles exhibited on social media," according to Oxford Dictionary.

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a-1672467713 Dec 30, 2022 10:21 PM
2022 Words of the Year

I'm a fan of the OED, what word lover isn't, but I was shocked by them this year. And disappointed, not sure if in myself or them. I read and watch a lot of social media, but I had never heard this phrase before reading about their choice. Left me flat.

Luvaduck Dec 31, 2022 07:59 AM
2022 Words of the Year

Thankfully, it wasn't a given name used to describe bad behavior by boorish members of our society with limited vocabulary.

Gimli Dec 31, 2022 09:19 AM
2022 Words of the Year

I grew up with these words when I was a kid, and there are times I still say them: "Like wayout man". "Dig daddy-o". "That hep cat is like cool on the horn." (Jazz player). "Like split everyone! Here comes the fuzz to bust us!" (The police).

Harbor_Seal Dec 31, 2022 10:13 AM
2022 Words of the Year

Huh… I thought a “Homer” was a man who could survive by only by consuming beer and doughnuts?

a-1672550662 Dec 31, 2022 09:24 PM
2022 Words of the Year

I thought of him after the classical storyteller. :-)

a-1674559153 Jan 24, 2023 03:19 AM
2022 Words of the Year

And we have a worthy late but total winner!
Complain all you want that it's just an acronym. It encapsulates the year, and recent times, for me too. ;-)


"Last week, the American Dialect Society announced the results of its vote for 2022’s Word of the Year. This time, the society went slang-esoteric — 2020’s “covid” and 2021’s all-too-necessary “insurrection” were succeeded by the suffix “-ussy,” which I have never heard in the wild and, uh, shall decline to explain in a family newspaper.
But with all due respect to the society’s distinguished crew of linguists, I’d say it was a college writing center from Sioux Falls, S.D., that nailed the word of the year with its choice: FAFO. In case you don’t already know, FAFO is an acronym for “eff around and find out.” It’s a cheeky way to tell people that if they play with fire, they might get burned — or to announce they already have been. The Sioux Falls gang put a positive spin on FAFO, citing it as representing the “gumption” of their fellow students “when encountering a novel challenge” and noting that the Urban Dictionary calls the phrase an “exclamation of confidence.” It is that — but it’s also a whole lot more.

2022 was the year that FAFO, on the rise since 2020, hit the pop culture zeitgeist. Jesse Sheidlower, a lexicographer and editor of the book “The F-Word,” told me he has traced the phrase as far back as 2007, originating in African American slang, but that he only really became aware of it a couple of years ago. On Google Trends, you can see FAFO gradually pick up steam and then soar this past December. That was the moment that Kanye West got booted off Twitter for tweeting an unflattering photo of the platform’s memelord-turned-overlord, Elon Musk. How did Musk explain his executive decision? In a four-letter tweet that forced the actual adults following this squabble to look up what FAFO meant. Sorry, everybody.

In its brevity, FAFO recalls YOLO (“you only live once”), a similar acronym that burst from obscurity to ubiquity after a Drake song put it on the map in 2011. But if YOLO is largely a sunny, big-hearted term, FAFO has a harsher effect. It is confident, sure. But it is also a warning, and an expression of glee at someone getting their comeuppance — a 2022 vibe indeed, both cathartic and queasy-making.

On the bright side: 2022 was a year when maybe, just maybe, people who did dumb or awful things (coups, tax scams, attacking smaller countries, making overinflated weed-meme offers for social media sites) would finally face some consequences. “Can you do that?” many asked during the Trump era. Could you just lie, cheat, swindle, funnel taxpayer dollars to your businesses, grab people’s genitalia with impunity? Well, 2022 suggested that you couldn’t, or at least not entirely. “Eff around, find out” was a bratty, satisfying way to reclaim the high ground.

Yet it was also a year of scary warnings that whatever we were doing might constitute effing around, in someone’s eyes — and that it wasn’t going to end well. FAFO, funny and disturbing, was the double-edged taunt that covered both scenarios: a weapon for us, a weapon for them. It’s no coincidence that to counter Drake’s YOLO song, “The Motto,” I can find at least three different songs called FAFO, all involving menacing choruses where young men of various demographics (a comedian, a “MAGA rapper” — yes, indeed — and a Southern-fried White rap-rock dude) chant the phrase at their enemies, and at you. I listened to these songs and thought about not writing about FAFO at all.

Still, the angry young guys, and I suppose even Musk, are onto something: FAFO is undeniably fun to say. There’s that alliteration, the seeming imperative that is actually a taunt (like “come and get it”), and the built-in sense of righteous vengeance. Or, righteous when it’s your cause, less so when it’s not.

You can see its broad appeal in how it’s been deployed across the political spectrum: by far-left Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) talking about Donald Trump; as a pro-Democrat 2020 meme, sometimes paired with wild-eyed Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty; as an anti-antifa, pro-violence slogan by Proud Boys. You can even watch a professorial guy plot the phrase as two variables on a graph, in a TikTok that went viral for its absurdity. Say what you will about FAFO, but it definitely has the range.

When I asked Sheidlower why he thinks FAFO is so popular, he acknowledged that it’s a “punchy phrase” suited for these extremely online times. The FAFO shortening, which he dates to at least 2012, is “easier to type on a phone,” he wrote in an email. “It's not obscene so you can use it in more contexts.”

As 2023 dawns, I see no sign that the hard-knock, funny, tribal, punitive spirit of FAFO is going out of style. But I’m trying to embrace the best qualities of the phrase — namely, that effing around can be done in the spirit of creativity, and that finding out can be not just a pratfall but a revelation. I’m wishing you that more wholesome kind of FAFO this year — as a blessing, not a curse."

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