For insightful political discourse, Dictionary.com might not be the first outlet that comes to mind. Still, today's announcement of their Word of the Year may help answer a question many have been asking: "What kind of year has 2017 been?" Abandoning their normally whimsical year in review, Dictionary penned a damning treatise on power and how the powerful chose to wield it this year.
Complicit means “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having partnership or involvement in wrongdoing.” Or, put simply, it means being, at some level, responsible for something . . . even if indirectly.
This is some seriously epic nerd shade!!!!! Loving it!— Maria Lebron (@mariablebron1) November 27, 2017
When the meaning of words is called into question, people turn to Dictionary.com as a source of truth. Traces of that quest for truth show up in our trending lookup data.
Searches for the word "complicit" rose over 300% this year on Dictionary's site. "The word complicit has sprung up in conversations this year about those who speak out against powerful figures and institutions and about those who stay silent."
Later in April, searches for the word spiked again after an interview with Ivanka Trump on CBS This Morning.
I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit.
Dictionary also spotlighted President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, EPA chief Scott Pruitt's refusal to acknowledge humans as a primary cause of climate change, and the removal of climate change data from government websites this year.
Political figures weren't the only ones Dictionary called out for their complicity. In the recent wave of sexual assault allegations, the site called out not only those who abused their positions of power but also associates who let them get away with it for so long.
Finally Dictionary called out social media leaders Google, Facebook, and Twitter for their complicity in the spread of propaganda.
Our choice for Word of the Year is as much about what is visible as it is about what is not. It’s a word that reminds us that even inaction is a type of action. 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.