For women around the world, the identifier has held special meaning. But Dictionary.com put the term under a new spotlight.
The website recently selected the word “woman” as its Word of the Year for 2022, PEOPLE Magazine reported.
According to the outlet, the word was selected in part because its typical annual search volume doubled over the last 12 months, per a news release.
“Woman” and its definition were both at the center of various “consequential moments, discussions, and decisions in our society” in 2022, leading to the selection, according to John Kelly, Senior Director of Editorial at Dictionary.com. Selecting “woman” as our Word of the Year, he says, “provides an acknowledgement of the gravity of the various events affecting women in 2022.”
“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.” Kelly told the outlet. “Our selection of ‘woman’ as our 2022 Word of the Year reflects how gender, identity, and language are shaping our current cultural conversation — and how it shapes much of our work as a dictionary,” he added.
The search rate for the term increased by more than 1400%, with Ketanji Brown-Jackson’s Supreme Court appointment and Serena Williams’s retirement sparking global interest.
“The dictionary is not the last word on what defines a woman,” Kelly said to PEOPLE. “The word belongs to each and every woman — however they define themselves.”