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It's no secret that 2017 was a tumultuous year, politically, environmentally, and culturally. But with this unrest comes positive social change, as evidenced by cultural victories like the #MeToo movement, Time Magazine's 2017 Person of the Year cover, and now, Merriam-Webster's 2017 Word of the Year. After analyzing its online dictionary lookups for the past 12 months, the linguistic authority has carefully selected "feminism" as its word of the year for 2017.
"Merriam-Webster's word of the year gives us insight into the collective curiosity of the public, with millions of words looked up on our online dictionary every month," explains Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, in a new video. "The word was a top lookup, with a 70% increase over 2016. It also saw several spikes that corresponded to various news reports and events during the year."
The word surged in search volume following several political and cultural events, such as the Women's March on Washington, D.C., in January, when Kellyanne Conway said she didn't consider herself a feminist in a Washington Post interview, and most recently, the wave of sexual misconduct allegations coming to light in Hollywood and beyond. The entertainment sphere also had a role in shaping this cultural zeitgeist, with programs like Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale and the Wonder Woman film also inspiring searches for the word "feminism."