In 2017, every company needs to be on top of social media, intent on pumping out jokes even millennials can appreciate. Dictionaries are no exception. Dictionary.com recently announced it’s word of the year on Twitter, and it is…*drumroll*…”complicit.” The online dictionary announced the decision in a tweet, writing: “We’re so excited to announce that the Word of the Year is covfefe! JUST KIDDING! But it is complicit.”
We're so excited to announce that the Word of the Year is covfefe!
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) November 27, 2017
According to Dictionary.com, “complicit” is defined as “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others,” or “having partnership or involvement in wrongdoing”. If you recall, the word “complicit” is just one of many presidential advisor and fashion designer Ivanka Trump did not know the meaning of (others include: ‘relative’, ‘albeit’, and ‘otherwise’). Ironic, really.
The term ‘complicit’ saw a boost in Dictionary.com searches in March 2017 when an SNL skit featured Scarlett Johansson played Ivanka Trump, who was promoting her new perfume called “Complicit.” It was marketed as “The fragrance for the woman who could stop all this, but won’t.”
Several weeks later, Ivanka Trump admitted she had no idea what the word ‘complicit’ actually meant.
In a blog post on Dictionary.com, the online dictionary described it’s reasoning behind choosing the term ‘complicit’ as its 2017 Word of the Year. Lookups for the term spiked over 11,000% in April when Ivanka Trump tried to redefine the word in an interview withThis Morning’s Gayle King to put a positive spin on it. “If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit,” she said, to which Dictionary.com replied “As many of you know from looking up the definition of complicit, there’s nothing positive or good about it. In fact, being complicit is decidedly negative, as it means that a person is involved with someone or something that’s wrong. Whatever your politics, this meaning is not up for debate.”
The online dictionary also listed many other instances in which there was a direct correlation between the word ‘complicit’ and searches for it and current events, which included climate change deniers, powerful men in Hollywood retaining their power for so long because of ‘complicit’ associates, and President Trump’s complicity in promoting hate by calling Neo-Nazis “good people.” They also listed pivotal stories of those who refused to be complicit, citing NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem as well as the #MeToo hashtag that has been instrumental in outing so many sexual abusers in powerful positions.
“Lookups for the word complicit increased by nearly 300 percent in searches in 2017 as compared to 2016,” Dictionary.com’s CEO Liz McMillan said in a statement shared by Entertainment Weekly.
“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.”
Centuries from now, historians will study how the term rose in popularity in direct correlation with the Trump administration. Dictionary.com ends their blog post with a sentiment that may just bring you to tears. “The silent acceptance of wrongdoing is how we’ve gotten to this point. We must not let this continue to be the norm. If we do, then we are all complicit.”
In other words: Speak up for justice. Do the right thing.