The English language can be a funny thing. For instance, the most complicated word is only three letters long. But difficult grammar and confusing spelling aside, it can also tell us a lot about our current state of mind. Case in point: Dictionary.com has named the word “complicit” as its word of the year.
The online dictionary defines the word “complicit” as “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others.” (These words, on the other hand, mean the opposite of what you think.) Searches for the word increased by nearly 300 percent in 2017 as compared to 2016, according to the website.
Tatiana Ayazo /RD.com
People looked up the word “complicit” on two days, in particular: Once on March 12, the day after a Saturday Night Live spoof portrayed a fake Ivanka Trump selling perfume called Complicit. There was a 10,000 percent increase in daily average lookups on that day, Dictionary.com reported. And the second spike took place on April 5, when daily average searches jumped 11,000 percent after the real Ivanka Trump mentioned the word in an interview.
The website’s previous words of the year have included xenophobia in 2016 and identity in 2015. Noting these past trends, there appears to be “a direct correlation between trending word lookups and current events,” Liz McMillan, CEO of Dictionary.com, said.
No surprises there, especially given the many negative events that occurred this year. Dictionary.com listed just a few, such as “investigations of potential ties between the current U.S. presidential administration and Russia, a barrage of natural and manmade disasters, widespread allegations of sexual assault and harassment, and the devastating effects of both mass shootings and the opioid epidemic.”
Don’t let this news get all you word nerds down, though. Here’s some more brain food to cheer you up: The longest word in the English language is 189,819 letters long.