Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year 2017

Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year for 2017 is “Feminism”. The word has been topical throughout the year, with several spikes that corresponded to various news reports and events -  starting with the Women’s March on Washington in January through to the #MeToo Movement that shows no sign of abating. 

Lookups for the meaning of feminism also spiked in February, after White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, during remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, said “It’s difficult for me to call myself a feminist in the classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male, and it certainly is very pro-abortion.” In response, the dictionary posted the definition of feminism to its Twitter account: 

'Feminism' is defined as "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities." 

Word of the year (aka WOTY) is decided by the dictionary company’s editors by measuring which terms had more lookups this year than in years past and weighing those words against the news of the day. 

Other contenders for “Word of the year 2017” 

# 2 Complicit 
Complicit was named word of the year by Dictionary.com. It means “helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.” It comes from the Latin word meaning “to fold together.” The word has been used in connection with the Trump administration throughout the year. 

#3 Recuse 
Recuse means “to disqualify (oneself) as judge in a particular case” and “to remove (oneself) from participation to avoid a conflict of interest.” All the spikes for “recuse” were in reference to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

#4 Empathy
 
Empathy means “the ability to share another person’s feelings” and ultimately derives from the Greek word meaning “emotional.” It was frequently used in articles criticizing Trump or Republicans for their lack of empathy in their comments or proposed legislation, and it was also discussed as one of the primary desired outcomes of the #MeToo campaign. 

#5 Dotard 
Dotard means "a person in his or her dotage" (dotage is "a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness"), and initially had the meaning "imbecile" when it began being used in the 14th century. This word made the news when the Korean Central News Agency released comments from North Korean president Kim Jong Un that called Donald Trump "a mentally deranged U.S. dotard. 


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