Commenting on why they chose ‘woman’ as the 2022 Word of the Year, a statement on Dictionary.com’s website read, “This year, searches for the word woman on Dictionary.com spiked significantly multiple times in relation to separate high-profile events, including the moment when a question about the very definition of the word was posed on the national stage.” Some of these high-profile events, which made womanhood a frequently searched term throughout 2022, were: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson becoming the first Black woman to be appointed as the US Supreme Court justice, the overturning of the Roe vs Wade case, abortion banning in the US, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s death which lead to huge public protests in Iran, and the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022.
“Our selection of woman as our 2022 Word of the Year reflects how the intersection of gender, identity, and language dominates the current cultural conversation and shapes much of our work as a dictionary… During the height of the lookups for woman on Dictionary.com in 2022, searches for the word increased more than 1,400% (a massive leap for such a common word). Subsequent spikes eventually resulted in double the typical annual search volume for the word,” reads a statement on Dictionary.com’s website.
According to Dictionary.com, the word ‘woman’ is derived from the Old English word wīfman– a combination of the words wīf and man. “The Old English word wīf meant “female” or “woman,” and is the source of the word wife (which originally could refer to a woman regardless of marital status). The original meaning of man, meanwhile, was simply “person.” The first records of the word woman in English come from as early as the year 900,” it further states.
Other words which were shortlisted for Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year 2022 were: Ukraine flag emoji, inflation, quiet quitting, democracy, and Wordle.