‘Woman’ Selected As Dictionary.com Word Of The Year After Searches Spike During Ketanji Brown-Jackson Hearing

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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Dictionary.com announced on Tuesday that it selected the term “woman” as its 2022 word of the year after an increase in searches.

“Woman” was selected as this year’s winner because searches “spiked significantly” throughout the year as the current political climate hones in on how the word should be defined, the website claimed. While Dictionary.com defines the term as “an adult female person,” it claims on its website that the term “belongs to each and every woman—however they define themselves.” (RELATED: Cambridge Dictionary Redefines ‘Woman’ To Include Men)

“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 humans,” Dictionary.com wrote. “And yet it’s a word that continues to be a source of intense personal importance and societal debate. It’s a word that’s inseparable from the story of 2022.”

A graph depicting the search history for the term shows that the largest spike occurred in March during the Ketanji Brown-Jackson Supreme Court confirmation hearings. During this time, in which Jackson refused to provide a definition for the word, its search history spiked by 1,417% compared to 2021.

“It was a rare case of not just a word in the spotlight, but a definition. We at Dictionary.com weren’t the only ones to take notice,” the site claimed. “The prominence of the question and the attention it received demonstrate how issues of transgender identity and rights are now frequently at the forefront of our national discourse.”

Additional spikes in search histories followed the leaked Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) document anticipating the overturn of Roe v. Wade in May and again in June and July following the official SCOTUS ruling.

Dictionary.com also credited boosted interest in the term to several events which occurred throughout 2022 including the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Iranian protests and the recent imprisonment of women’s basketball 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,” the website read.

“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,” it continued.

Cambridge Dictionary updated its definition of “woman” on Tuesday to include anyone who identifies as such. It now claims that “woman” can be defined as “an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “female” as “having a gender identity that is opposite of male.”

Dictionary.com and the Supreme Court Public Information Office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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