Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Feminism, Youthquake and Complicit

As Rick noted in his post yesterday, this is the time of year when we look back at what’s happened over the past year. It also means dictionaries select a word of the year.

Merriam-Webster selected “feminism” as its 2017 Word of the Year. They give this designation to the word that’s been “looked up on Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary disproportionately more than in previous years.”

Merriam-Webster’s definition: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests.”

Spikes in look-ups occurred during the Women’s March on Washington the day after the U.S. presidential inauguration, then when the movie Wonder Woman and the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale were released.

Across the pond, Oxford Dictionaries chose “youthquake” as their word of the year. It’s defined as “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.” They chose it because there’s been a fivefold increase in usage in 2017 compared to 2016. The UK’s general election in June apparently caused a big spike in its usage.

I haven’t heard this in the U.S. I gather it’s quite popular in the UK. Probably only a matter of time before it makes its way here. Even though I’m not familiar with it, youthquake has been around since 1965 when the editor-in-chief of Vogue declared it “the year of the youthquake.”

You can read more here. In the article, there’s also a link to a behind-the-scene post on how the word was selected. "Milkshake duck” was also considered. Really, “milkshake duck”. I definitely haven’t heard that one. got in on the act and chose “complicit” as its word of the year. The definition: “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having partnership or involvement in wrongdoing."

A spike in searches for the word occurred on March 12 after Saturday Night Live featured an “ad” with Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump selling a perfume called Complicit: “the fragrance for the woman who could stop all this but won’t.” Another spike on occurred on April 5 after an interview with the real Ivanka aired where she talked about the word.

So there you have it, the words of the year for 2017. What do you think of these words? What word would you use to describe 2017?


vinothika said...

The blog is very interesting and will be much useful for use. Thanks for sharing with your blog. Please keep on updating.

Hadoop Training in Chennai

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Fascinating indeed! I feel a little sad that Feminism is a top word in the US ... the fact so many people needed to look it up in 2017 suggests they didn't know what it stood for before 2017. On the plus side, that is clearly changing! I'd never heard of youthquake before 2017, so it seems fitting it is in the top three here in UK. As for complicit - hm? I'm amazed at the influence an advert still has on the behaviour of the viewing population. I thought no one paid attention to adverts any more - we always mute them if we they come up. My word for 2017 would be "unbelievable".

Sybil Johnson said...

Hi Marianne. The "advert" was really a spoof of an ad on Saturday Night Live, which does skits etc. They do lots of political stuff. Alec Baldwin has done a great impression of Trump on the show.

I like "unbelievable" as a word for 2017. Certainly describes the year.

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Thanks for explaining that, Sybil. Now I understand - I sometimes see Saturday Night Live , it is very clever! Have a great Christmas :)