In the year of the #MeToo movement, it’s no surprise that Merriam-Webster dictionary’s word of the year for 2017 is “feminism.”
Merriam-Webster said “feminism” was the most looked-up word in its online dictionary, with the term generating 70% more searches than last year.
Those spikes in interest were tied to several major events dealing with women’s issues this year.
In January, the word spiked after the Women’s March in Washington (with “sister marches” around the world), held the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The word spiked again in late February, after White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told the Conservative Political Action Conference that it was hard for her to call herself a feminist “because it seems to be very anti-male and very pro-abortion in this context.”
It wasn’t just politics that fueled interest in the word. Merriam-Webster noted searches for feminism increased during the hype surrounding TV shows and movies with strong feminist themes, such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Wonder Woman.”
And this fall, as the “#MeToo movement took off – and millions of women began sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault – the word soared again in the dictionary’s online searches.
Feminism is defined in Merriam-Webster as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and as the “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”
Another top word for Merriam-Webster this year was also Dictionary.com’s 2017 word of the year: complicit.