Dictionary.com Names ‘Complicit’ as Word of the Year


A nation turned its lonely eyes to Dictionary.com, pleading for the online lexicon to choose something lovely and innocuous, like “pizza,” as their word of the year for 2017. Did they listen? Nope. They went with “complicit.”

Complicit, which is described as “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having complicity,” was “indicative of larger trends that resonated throughout the year,” according to the website.

The word had several moments in the national spotlight this year, starting with a scathing skit by SNL that featured Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump, suggesting that she had enabled her father, President Donald Trump.

In April, Ivanka caused the word to spike again, while defending herself against allegations that she was complicit in her father’s actions, when she said ”I don’t know what it means to be complicit.”

Web searches for the word surged again last month, when Sen. Jeff Flake admonished the president as he announced he would not be seeking re-election.

“The principles that underlie our politics, the values of our founding, are too vital to our identity and to our survival to allow them to be compromised by the requirements of politics. Because politics can make us silent when we should speak, and silence can equal complicity,” he said. “I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit.”

The word was also boosted by the bevy of sexual harassment scandals that have plagued public figures this year, beginning with Harvey Weinstein and his alleged team of assistants that made sure his misdeeds stayed in the shadows for decades.

Web traffic may not be the only measure by which the website chooses their word of the year, but Liz McMillan, Dictionary.com CEO, has stated that it does help show what Internet users are interested in.

“Lookups for the word complicit increased by nearly 300 percent in searches in 2017 as compared to 2016,” she said in a press release. “We continue to see a direct correlation between trending word lookups and current events, and we find it encouraging that our users are dedicated to understanding the language and words that pop up in the biggest news stories of the year.”

Dictionary.com chose “xenophobia” as their word of the year in 2016 and “identity” in 2015.

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