Dictionary.com's 2017 Word of the Year Is ‘Complicit’

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By the Web Editors 11-27-2017
Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivankalook on during Trump's walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Dictionary.com announced Nov. 27 it had chosen "complicit" as its word of the year for 2017, according to The Associated Press

Online searches of the word spiked three times over the year. The first was the day after a Saturday Night Live spoof ad for a perfume called "Complicit," starring Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump. Look-ups of the word spiked again in April when Ivanka Trump said, in an interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning, "I don't know what it means to be complicit."

Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) later used the word in his retirement announcement, saying "I will not be complicit or silent" about the Trump administration and Republican party members. 

The Associated Press reports:

As for “complicit,” [Solomon] said several other major events contributed to interest in the word. They include the rise of the opioid epidemic and how it came to pass, along with the spread of sexual harassment and assault allegations against an ever-growing list of powerful men, including film mogul Harvey Weinstein.

...The site chooses its word of the year by heading straight for data first, scouring look-ups by day, month and year to date and how they correspond to noteworthy events, Solomon said. This year, a lot of high-volume trends unsurprisingly corresponded to politics.

"This year a conversation that keeps on surfacing is what exactly it means to be complicit,” lexicographer Jane Solomon said. “Complicit has sprung up in conversations about those who speak out against powerful figures in institutions, and those who stay silent."

According to Dictionary.com, "the Word of the Year serves as a symbol of the year’s most meaningful events and lookup trends." The 2016 words of the year from Merriam-Webster and Oxford Dictionary also spoke to the political and cultural climate: Merriam-Webster's 2016 word of the year was "surreal," while Oxford's 2016 word of the year was "post-truth."

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