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.
Dictionary threw down a gauntlet that left few unscathed with just one word: COMPLICIT.
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.
Twitter seemed to agree that at least some words speak louder than actions:
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."
The spike began in early March after Saturday Night Live aired a parody of Ivanka Trump selling a new perfume called Complicit.
Later in April, searches for the word spiked again after an interview with Ivanka Trump on CBS This Morning.
Ivanka attempted to redefine the word before claiming she didn't know what it meant.
In October, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake explained why he wouldn't begin running for reelection:
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.
Dictionary ended their essay with a call to action:
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.
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