Merriam-Webster Dictionary Announced 2017’s Word of the Year


Maggee Chang, Staff Writer

As the year is coming to an end, the American Dictionary announced the Word of the Year this week: feminism. In Merriam-Webster, feminism is defined as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”  and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” It was the most commonly looked up word in 2017, along with the word ‘complicit.’

Merriam-Webster released the list this week– a list of ten most commonly searched words on the internet. This perfectly summarized the ebbs and flows of this tumultuous year. Feminism has been a strong presence in the United States’ public spheres of politics and media, from the Women’s March in January to the staggering numbers of sexual assault allegations against some of the country’s most influential men (Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Donald Trump, to list a few.)

The Women’s March in Washington D.C. led to a lot of dialogue surrounding the word, from the mass news coverage to the follow-up conversation. Women’s Marches have also been held in several different parts of the country and in other nations other than the U.S. Ironically, 2017’s infamous word’s popularity spiked around February when White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who is also the first woman to manage a successful presidential campaign, publicly excluded herself from feminism. Thus, many people searched the word on the internet to learn if feminism is truly “anti-male.” Even President Donald Trump was included in the feminist narrative– as an antagonist. He has been accused by a dozen women for sexual assault and a leaked Hollywood Access video that is now viral showed him speaking “locker room talk” as — he bragged of the attention from beautiful women, saying consent is not necessary since he is rich and famous.

The entertainment industry also has an existing dialogue on feminism– blockbuster hit Wonder Woman, which was made by female director Patty Jenkins, was released earlier this summer, empowering women across the globe, and raked $822 million at the box office. From the plot’s themes to the simple representation it brings, Wonder Woman inspired girls to be the superheroes of their own lives.

In the second half of the year, many women spoke out, accusing immensely influential men of sexual assault and misconduct. In turn, TIME Magazine named the “Silence Breakers” 2017’s Person of the Year. The Silence Breakers are the brave individuals who have come out of hiding and exposed influential men of America for who they are, besides their esteemed profile in the media– habitual sexual predators. This also started a global trend, #MeToo, inspiring other equally brave individuals from all walks of life to tell their story.

As a result, it is no surprise Merriam-Webster listed feminism as the Word of the Year. 2017 has finally put the truth on the table– feminism needs to be discussed– after countless acts of bravery in the name of it. Women, minorities, and people of the LGBT community have committed game-changing steps toward the theory of the political, economic, and social equality.