Feedback’s 2022 Word Of The Year Is…

image of computer-generated red person in front of an orange and blue grid
It’s one of the oldest words in the English language. One that’s fundamental not just to our vocabulary but to who we are as humans. And yet it’s a word that continues to be a source of intense personal importance and societal debate. It’s a word that’s inseparable from the story of 2022.’s Word of the Year is woman.

woman [ woomuhn ]


1. an adult female person.

Why we chose woman as the 2022 Word of the Year

This year, searches for the word woman on spiked significantly multiple times in relation to separate high-profile even🎉ts, including the moment when a question about the very definition of the word was posed on the national stage.

Our selection of woman as 🥂our 2022 Word of the Year reflects how the intersection of gender, identity, and language dominates the current cultural conversation and shapes much of our work as a dictionary.

During the height of the lookups for woman on in 2022, searches for the word increased more than 1,400% (a 🎀massive leap for such a common word). Subsequent spikes eventually resulted in double the typical annual search volume for the word.

searches for "woman" on 2022

The biggest search spike started at the end of March, during a confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who in April became the first Black woman to be confirmed as a US Supreme Court justice. Specifically, the surge in lookups came after she was asked by Senator Marsha Blackburn to provide a definition for the word woman.

It was a rare case of not just a word in the spotlight, but a definition. We at weren’t the only ones to take notice. The prominence of the question and the attention it received demonstrate how issues of transgender identity and rights are now frequently at the forefront of our national discourse. More than ever, we are all faced with questions about who gets to identify as a woman (or a man, or neither). The policies that these questions inform transcend the importance of any dictionary definition—they directly impact people’s lives.

Can you provide a definition for the word woman?

—Question posed by Senator Marsha Blackburn to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing in March 2022

In May, a leak revealed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and lookups for woman surged again (along with significant increases in searches for related terms like autonomy🍃). Further search spikes occurred again in June and July.

In June, the court formally issued its ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, officially overturning Roe🧜. The historic decision was immediately considered—across the political spectrum—to be one of the most consequential in decades, socially and politically.

Unsurprisingly, it resulted in both polarization and galvanization. That dynamic played out in November’s midterm elections, which upended trends and expectations. The outcome has been attributed in part to an electorate, and particularly women, voting in reaction to the Dobbs ruling. The election also added to the ranks of the nation’s women governors, r꧃esulting in what will be a record number of women—12—serving as governors in 2023.

The etymology of "woman"

The meaning is actually embedded right there in the roots of the word. Woman comes from the Old English wīfman, which combines the words wīf and man. The Old English word wīf meant “female” or “woman,” and is the source of the word wife (which originally could refer to a woman regardless of marital status). The original meaning of man, meanwhile, was simply “person.” The first records of the word woman in English come from as early as the year 900.

Women were also prominent in several of 2022’s other key moments and the discourse around them:
  • In September, the death of Queen Elizabeth II captured the world’s attention in a way that few other things do, prompting discussion and debate about the life and the legacy of the woman who became one of the world’s longest reigning monarchs. (Incidentally, the word queen derives from a word simply meaning “woman.”)
  • In Iran, a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, died in the custody of the government’s so-called morality police, sparking outrage and a protest movement that has been primarily led by women, who are demanding greater freedom and autonomy.
  • The year was full of notable stories in women’s sports, including superstar Serena Williams’ announcement that she will be “evolving away from tennis”; ongoing debates about transgender athletes; the equal pay settlement reached by the US Women’s National Soccer Team; and WNBA star Brittney Griner’s internationally condemned imprisonment by Russia and her subsequent release.

The utter variety of all these events is a reminder that one word can never sufficiently summarize or encapsulate an entire year, especially a year as relentlessly eventful, inflammatory, and inflationary as 2022. Nevertheless, 2022 will be remembered in part for its impact on women, and for women’s impact on a changing world. From our perspective as observers and recorders of language change, the word woman is a prime example of the many gender terms undergoiওng shifts in how and to whom they’re a♊pplied.

Our core work is making sure that the dictionary reflects how people💛 use wor🃏ds in the real world. Our entries for woman and the inextricably linked word female do this 🐼by accounting for the many facets of such terms—biological, personal, and linguistic.

But the dictionary is not the last word on what defines a woman. The word belongs to each and every woman—however they define themselves.

The candidates on our Word of the Year short list reflect the role of as a living resource for making sense of the terminology of complicated times. These five terms tell a story of some of the year’s most significant events and trends.

🇺🇦 [Ukraine flag emoji]

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ongoing war, its countless injustices and tragedies, and the perseverance of Ukraine’s people all weigh heavily on our collective memory of 2022. One of the most visible and simple ways of expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people has been with the Ukraine flag emoji 🇺🇦 (along with the Sunflower emoji 🌻). It’s another prominent example of emoji as a form of efficient and meaning-pack💟ed exꦺpression.

Terms related to the war and its many aspects also became some of the year’s top searches, including oligarch and sanction.


Inflation was inescapable this year, both in terms of its hard-felt effects and as a topic of discussion and debate. Our lexicographers have taken particular note of the linguistic trend—one they expect to continue—of related compound forms, including established, revived, and newly emerging terms: shrinkflation, skimpflation, greedflation, stagflation, hyperinflation, superinflation, shadow inflation, and wage-push inflation.

quiet quitting

Several terms related to paradigm shifts in the workplace and the workforce have recently entered our vocabulary or become more commonly used, including antiwork and Lie Flat. But one that seemed to especially resonate with people this year is quiet quitting, the informal term for the practice of (secretl🅘𒈔y) reducing the amount of effort one devotes to their job.


Among the top 50 lookups at this entire year was the word democracy, which came to the fore෴front in 2022 particularly 🤡amid discussion of its precariousness.


It’s especially interesting to us, in the word business, that the one thing that seemed to have the ability to bring everyone together in 2022 was a simple word game. Not only did we add the trademarked term Wordle itself to the dictionary this year, we also continue to see a high frequency of lookups related to the game’s answers. This is especially the case for the stumpers—i.e. the ones that take more than a trice to figure out, such as knoll, atoll, tacit, and trope. Fittingly, our Word of the Year, woman, is a five-letter word.

Which Wordle a💃nswer stumped you this💧 year? See if it’s on our list of 2022’s top Wordle answer lookups.

Past Words of the Year
























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