To say 2017 has been a rough year would be an understatement. If you need some proof of the struggle look no further than Dictionary.com’s word of the year: Complicit.
On Monday the online dictionary announced that the not-so-reassuring adjective is 2017’s standout word because it’s “indicative of larger trends that resonated throughout the year.”
Defined as “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act,” Dictionary.com said the word is associated with everything from Russia’s involvement with the U.S. election and Trump’s decision to opt out of the Paris Climate Agreement to the ever-growing sexual harassment allegations in today’s society.
While the word could surely be applied to several 2017 events, many remember the word “complicit” making waves back in April after Ivanka Trump sparked a debate about whether or not she understood the meaning of the word.
In an interview with CBS, Gayle King asked Ivanka about media reports calling her and her husband Jared “complicit.” Ivanka casually replied, “I don’t know what it means to be complicit,” and naturally the internet had a field day.
“If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit,” Ivanka went on.
FYI, girl — that’s definitely not what the word means.
After Ivanka’s comments, Merriam-Webster Dictionary shared that “complicit” had become the top on-site lookup, referencing an SNL sketch from March that showed Ivanka (played by Scarlett Johansson) promoting her new perfume, called, “Complicit.”
Complicity outside of Russia
“Lookups for the word complicit increased by nearly 300 percent in searches in 2017 as compared to 2016,” Liz McMillan, CEO of Dictionary.com, said in a press release. But the curiosity wasn’t solely pegged to the Trump administration and Russia.
Dictionary.com noted that by pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and not taking enough action against climate change “many feel that we are all directly complicit in the worsening extreme weather patterns that continue to impact people across the globe.”
In the entertainment industry and beyond, as more and more sexual assault allegations come to light, complicity of those who aided in the longtime coverups is being discussed. And as tragedies like the opioid epidemic and mass shootings raise important discussions, many argue that complicity can no longer be an option.
Though complicit isn’t exactly a positive word, Dictionary.com also revealed some feel-good terms that trended throughout the year too.
Earlier in 2017, the world “intersex” trended thanks to model Hanne Gaby Odiele’s open discussion, “shrinkage” trended because of a Seinfeld episode, and “tarnation” gained popularity from that famous meme, to name a few.