You might think the word “Gaslighting” is a recent addition to Gen-Z vocabulary (alongside “Slay,” “Queen,” and “Serve”), but its origins go back further than you may think; yet that hasn’t stopped the term from becoming Merriam-Webster‘s Word of the Year for 2022.

Per Paper Mag, the term dates back to the 20th Century. It’s said to be coined in “a 1938 play and 1944 Oscar-nominated film Gaslight, which portrays a husband’s plot to convince his wife that she’s losing her mind by telling her that the gaslights in their home, which dim when he’s in the attic doing dastardly deeds, are not fading at all.”

And per the official Merriam-Webster definition, “Gaslighting” means “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage.”

In recent years, it’s become much more than just a word used to describe a mischievous partner or loved one. Recent moments in our history that have come as a result of systems of oppression, affecting marginalized communities like LGTBQ+ people, women, people of color and others often, have seen the word “Gaslighting” becoming frequently used in dialogue describing such misleading acts.

For more cultural moments, find out what’s happened to the humble French baguette.
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