Dictionary.com Selects ‘Complicit’ as 2017 Word of the Year

A screen shot provided by Dictionary.com shows the word “complicit,” on its website. Dictionary.com says that “complicit” is its word of the year for 2017, citing its new relevance in politics and social commentary.

Dictionary.com has selected “complicit” as its word of the year for 2017, citing the term’s renewed relevance in U.S. culture and politics — and noting that a refusal to be complicit has also been “a grounding force of 2017.”

The website defines “complicit” as “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having complicity.”

Interest in the word spiked several times this year, Dictionary.com says — most notably when Ivanka Trump said in April, “I don’t know what it means to be complicit.”

That remark came weeks after Saturday Night Live aired a segment in which Scarlett Johansson portrayed President Trump’s daughter in a skit to tout a luxury fragrance called Complicit. Its tagline: “The fragrance for the woman who could stop all this, but won’t.”

The term spiked a third time, Dictionary.com says, after Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced in October that he won’t seek re-election to Congress, citing a “flagrant disregard for truth or decency” in the Trump administration.

“It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end,” Flake told his fellow Republicans.

While those headline-grabbing mentions helped drive interest in and use of the term in the political arena, Dictionary.com says complicity also lurked behind many of the biggest stories of 2017. As examples, it listed humanity’s role in contributing to climate change, the normalizing of hate speech and supremacist groups, and the tacit enabling of sexual harassment.

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SOURCE: NPR, Bill Chappell