Or, to be more precise, Words of the Year.
Words of the Year come from a number of locations and organizations. Merriam-Webster Dictionaries and the American Dialect Society in the United States, Oxford Dictionaries and Collins Dictionaries in Great Britain, the Australian National Dictionary Centre, and other institutions devoted to language around the world have all made a tradition out of choosing one word to represent the last twelve months, based on various considerations. And it seems that, much like Black Friday, Word of the Year announcements keep coming earlier and earlier.
This year, Dictionary.com was first out of the gate. On Monday, with a twelfth of the year still waiting on the calendar, its editors named complicit the Word of the Year:
complicit: choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having complicity.
At Dictionary.com, the Word of the Year “serves as a symbol of the year’s most meaningful events and lookup trends.” In 2017, lookups for complicit spiked 10,000 percent on March 12, the day after Saturday Night Live aired a parody commercial in which Ivanka Trump (played by Scarlett Johansson) peddled a perfume called Complicit, “The fragrance for the woman who could stop all this, but won’t.”
Ivanka Trump herself caused a second, larger spike (11,000 percent) almost a month later in an April 4th CBS This Morning interview with Gayle King when, in response to a question about whether she and her husband were complicit in what was happening in the White house, she answered, “If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit.”
Obviously, that is not what complicit means, but kudos to her for trying to put a positive spin on a word that has a wholly negative connotation.
You can find out more about the word complicit and see it in use at Dictionary.com’s (surprisingly unbalanced and political) announcement about its Word of the Year.
This is just the first Word of the Year for 2017. As more groups and individuals unveil their picks, we’ll let you know about them right here at Copyediting.com. And come January, it might be an interesting challenge to craft a single sentence that contains all the Words of the Year.
What would you choose as the Word of the Year, and why?
[Update: Turns out that Dictionary.com wasn’t the first linguistic organization to announce its 2017 Word of the Year. Collins Dictionaries announced fake news as its Word of the Year back on November 2. My apologies to Collins Dictionaries for missing the announcement, but November 2 does seem awfully early to announce a Word of the Year, what with two months still left to get through.
At any rate, the Collins announcement includes a fun video and some entertaining animated GIFs for the other words on the shortlist. Check it out.]