Merriam-Webster Expertly Sums Up 2017 With Its Word Of The Year

No, it's not "dotard" -- although Kim Jong Un's insult did make the top 10.

And Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is ... “Feminism.”

The term enjoyed multiple lookup spikes on the dictionary’s website in 2017 and an overall 70 percent rise in its searches compared with 2016.

The Women’s March on Washington and other cities around the world the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January and the ongoing #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, bookended the 12 months.

Merriam-Webster defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

“Feminism” won out over other words that could have been inspired by the Trump administration, such as “complicit,” “recuse” and “dotard.”


“No one word can ever encapsulate all the news, events, or stories of a given year ― particularly a year with so much news and so many stories,” the dictionary said via a statement on its website.

But when a single word is looked up in great volume, and also stands out as one associated with several different important stories, we can learn something about ourselves through the prism of vocabulary.”

The Women’s March, the release of “The Handmaid’s Tale” television series and the “Wonder Woman” movie and the #MeToo movement all contributed to the term's popularity, the dictionary added.

The word feminism was being used in a kind of general way,” the dictionary’s editor-at-large, Peter Sokolowski, told The Associated Press. “What does it mean to be a feminist in 2017? Those kinds of questions are the kinds of things, I think, that send people to the dictionary.”

The Rest of Merriam-Webster’s Top 10 words for 2017:

2. Complicit ― an accusation leveled at first daughter Ivanka Trump.

3. Recuse ― what Attorney General Jeff Sessions did from the Russia probe.

4. Empathy ― Trump was regularly criticized for having none.

5. Dotard ― North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s nickname for Trump.

6. Syzygy ― searches soared thanks to the full solar eclipse in August.

7. Gyro ― inspired by a Jimmy Fallon skit on “The Tonight Show.”

8. Federalism ― the congressional debate over the Affordable Care Act caused this to surge.

9. Hurricane ― Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria all struck in 2017.

10. Gaffe ― The Best Picture announcement blunder at the Academy Awards made this a highly searched term.

Popular in the Community