Dictionary.com has announced that its word of the year is “woman” – and yes, that’s including all women.
“It’s one of the oldest words in the English language. One that’s fundamental not just to our vocabulary, but to who we are as a humans,” the statement read. “And yet it’s a word that continues to be a source of intense personal importance and societal debate.”
For Dictionary.com, woman is defined as an “adult female person” that – it emphasized – includes every woman, cisgender or otherwise, since “the word belongs to each and every woman — however they define themselves.”
For Dictionary.com, the high number of searches for the word may have been caused by:
- the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court of the US Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who – in April – became the first Black woman to be confirmed as a US Supreme Court justice
- the alleged “leak” that revealed that the Supreme Court of the US, even if unelected, will decide to prevent women from easily accessing abortion when it overturned Roe v. Wade
- the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September, said to have prompted “discussion and debate about the life and the legacy of the woman who became one of the world’s longest reigning monarchs”
- the death in Iran of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the government’s “morality police”, sparking outrage and a protest movement that has been primarily led by women, who are demanding greater freedom and autonomy
- the retirement of tennis superstar Serena Williams
- the ongoing debates about transgender athletes
- the equal pay settlement reached by the US Women’s National Soccer Team
- imprisonment in Russia of WNBA player Brittney Griner
“The utter variety of all these events is a reminder that one word can never sufficiently summarize or encapsulate an entire year, especially a year as relentlessly eventful, inflammatory, and inflationary as 2022. Nevertheless, 2022 will be remembered in part for its impact on women, and for women’s impact on a changing world. From our perspective as observers and recorders of language change, the word woman is a prime example of the many gender terms undergoing shifts in how and to whom they’re applied,” Dictionary.com stated.