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Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017: ‘Feminism’

The dictionary Merriam-Webster has revealed: “feminism” as word of the year for 2017 on Tuesday. The Women of the march on Washington in January was one of the sources of inspiration.

This may not come as a surprise: Merriam-Webster’s word of the year 2017, it is “feminism.”

Yes, it’s been a great year or two or 100 for the word. In 2017, lookups for feminism increased from 70 percent in 2016 on Merriam-Webster.com and pointed several times after important events, lexicographer Peter Sokolowski, the company’s editor at large, told The Associated Press ahead of Tuesday’s annual word reveal.

There was the Women’s march on Washington in January, along with sister demonstrations around the world. And on the way to the year was the Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and references for a pair of her white robe suffragists, together with her loss to President Donald Trump, who once boasted about grabbing women.

The “Me Too” movement rose out of Harvey Weinstein dust, and other “silence breakers” brought down rich and famous men of the media, political and entertainment worlds.

Feminism is in Merriam-Webster’s annual Top 10 for the last few years, including the sharing of word-of-the-year honors with other “isms” in 2015. Socialism, fascism, racism, communism, capitalism and terrorism rounded out the forest. Surreal was the word of the year last year.

“The word feminism was used in a kind of general way,” Sokolowski said by phone from the headquarters of the company in Springfield, Massachusetts. “The feminism of this large protest, but it was also used in a kind of specific way: What does it mean to be a feminist in 2017? That kind of questions are the kinds of things, I think, that people to the dictionary.”

Feminism’s roots are in the Latin for “woman” and the word “woman”, which dates back to the 14th century the English. Sokolowski had to look no further than its founder Noah Webster, the first dictionary reference, in 1841, that is not old in the history of the English language.

“It was a very new word in that time,” Sokolowski said. “His definition is not the definition that you and I would understand. His definition was: ‘The qualities of the women,’ so basically feminism to circumcise referred to femaleness. We do see evidence that the word was used in the 19th century, in a medical sense, for the physical characteristics of a developing teenager, before it was used as a political term, if you will.”

Webster the word in revisions of his “An American Dictionary of the English Language.” They were his last. He died in 1843. He also added the word terrorism in that year.

“We had no idea he was the original dictionary source of feminism. We don’t have a lot of evidence of what he saw,” Sokolowski said.

Today, Merriam-Webster defines feminism as the “theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activities on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

Another peak for the word feminism in 2017 took place in February, after Kellyanne Conway spoke at the Conservative Political Action Committee.

“It is hard for me to say that I am a feminist in the classic sense of the word, because it seems very anti-male and it certainly seems very pro-abortion. I’m not anti-male or pro-abortion,” she said. “There is an individual feminism, if you will, that you make your own choices. … I look at myself as a product of my choice, not a victim of my circumstances. And for me, that is what conservative feminism is all about.”

She was welcomed, and they sent many people to their dictionaries, Sokolowski said. The company would not release the actual numbers to look up.

Other events which attracted interest at the word feminism was the popular Hulu series, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and the feature film “Wonder Woman,” directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, Sokolowski said.

Merriam-Webster had nine runners up, in no particular order:

— Complicit, competitor Dictionary.com a word of the year.

— Recuse, in reference to Jeff Sessions and the Russia-research.

— Empathy, which hung high throughout the year.

— Dotard, used by Kim Jong-un to describe the Asset.

— Syzygy the nearly straight line configuration of three celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse.

— Gyro, which can be pronounced in three different ways, a phenom celebrated in a Jimmy Fallon sketch on “The Tonight Show.”

— Federalism, that Lindsey Graham, referred to in the discussion about the future of the Affordable Care Act.

— Hurricane, Sokolowski suspects, is because people are confused about the wind speed.

— Blunder, like what happened at the Academy Awards if this is not the best picture winner was announced. That was a go-to word for the media, Sokolowski said.

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