(The Hill) — Dictionary.com named “woman” its Word of the Year, calling the word “inseparable from the story of 2022” after abortion rights and prominent female figures dominated discussion this year.
Woman is defined on Dictionary.com simply as “an adult female person,” but political and social discussion in 2022 resulted in double the typical annual search volume for the word.
The highest spike came at the end of March during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first African-American woman to serve on the high court.
Other key events prompted renewed discussion and searches, including the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the nearly 50-year constitutional right to abortion in June; the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September; women-led protests in Iran and the historic election of 12 female governors in the U.S. midterm elections.
John Kelly, the senior director of editorial at Dictionary.com, said, “The very matter of the definition of the word ‘woman’ was at the center of so many consequential moments, discussions and decisions in our society.”
“Our selection of ‘woman’ as the Word of the Year for 2022—and how the word is defined, who is included in that definition, who the word applies and belongs to—highlights how important the work of a dictionary is, and how dictionaries can impact people’s lives,” Kelly said in a statement.
Woman also became a central term this year amid ongoing political and social battles in the U.S. over transgender rights.
In a blog post, Dictionary.com said its entries for the word woman account for “many facets of such terms—biological, personal, and linguistic.”
“But the dictionary is not the last word on what defines a woman. The word belongs to each and every woman—however they define themselves,” the blog post read.
Other key events also led to the selection of woman as Word of the Year, such as the high-profile detention and eventual release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and tennis player Serena Williams’s announcement that she was retiring from the sport.
On Dictionary.com’s shortlist this year were the words inflation, quiet quitting, democracy, the Ukraine flag emoji and popular word game Wordle.
Oxford announced its word of the year was “Goblin Mode,” while Merriam-Webster said its word of the year was “gaslighting.”