Merriam-Webster Declares 'Feminism' as the Word of the Year for 2017

Frederick Owens
December 14, 2017

Merriam-Webster said more look-ups followed the outpouring of sexual harassment allegations that have unseated well-known figures in Hollywood, politics, business, and triggered the #MeToo social media campaign by women all over the world.

According to, searches for the term spiked at several key moments throughout the year, beginning with the Women's March on Washington, DC in January - as well as other related marches held concurrently around the globe - and then again with "follow-up discussions regarding whether the march was feminist, and what kind of feminism was represented by organizers and attendees".

Merriam-Webster announced Tuesday that the dictionary's word of the year for 2017 is "feminism".

March organisers claimed that women's rights were under threat following the election of Mr Trump to the White House.

Speaking at a conservative event, she said she found it hard for describe herself as a feminist because she was not "anti-male" and "pro-abortion". The word spiked again when Kellyanne Conway said during an interview that she didn't consider herself a feminist. "There's an individual feminism, if you will, that you make your own choices".

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The Women's March, the release of "The Handmaid's Tale" television series and the "Wonder Woman" movie and the #MeToo movement all contributed to the term's popularity, the dictionary added. Company lexicographer and editor at large, Peter Sokolowski, says the word hung in the air throughout the year.

Its cover featured five women - two of them celebrities - who had reported sexual misconduct, but said many more people were part of the movement behind the cover picture. "Feminism" was the leader of the pack, with a 70 percent increase in lookups over 2016.

The word "feminism" has made Merriam-Webster's top ten lists for years, although the origins of the word itself date back hundreds of years.

The word refers to someone in "a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness".

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