'Feminism' Is Merriam-Webster Dictionary's Word Of The Year

At the start of December, Time magazine awarded its Person of the Year title to 'The Silence Breakers', or those who found the courage to speak out against sexual assault and harassment.

Hailing the #MeToo movement as a "a revolution of refusal", the magazine praises the women who have "had it'" with centuries of boundary-crossing and abusive behavior. Today, leading US dictionary Merriam-Webster has followed suit, naming 'feminism' as its official word of 2017

It's time to come forward. It's time to speak up. #MeToo

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After several years in the ranking's top ten, 'feminism' took over from 2016's number one word 'surreal', thanks to a spike in internet searches corresponding to a series of news reports and events. According to dictionary editor Peter Sokolowski, the number of people searching for the word was up 70% compared to 2016.

'Feminism' spiked for the first time in January for the Women's March in Washington and continued to hold an important place in internet searches as similar events took place throughout the rest of the world. More recently, the Weinstein affair and the resulting #MeToo movement has kept feminism in the news.

As the dictionary notes, the series The Handmaid's Tale and this year's Wonder Woman film have also created an upsurge in searches for the word.

The definition of feminism has distinctly evolved since its first appearance in Noah Webster's 1841 dictionary, where it is described as denoting "the qualities of females".

Today, it's defined as "the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes". The dictionary adds that feminism also refers to "organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests". Reflecting on what this means about the world today, Merriam-Webster notes:

"When a single word is looked up in great volume, and also stands out as one associated with several different important stories, we can learn something about ourselves through the prism of vocabulary."

In second place is 'complicit', which appears as rival site Dictionary.com's first pick. More frequently looked-up words include 'recuse', 'hurricane' and the slightly more positive 'empathy'. You can check out the top-ten list in full right here