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'Gaslighting' is Merriam-Webster's word of 2022. Classic movie fans know its origin

"Gaslighting" is Merriam-Webster’s word of 2022. 

The term originated in a play that spurred the popular Ingrid Bergman movie, "Gaslight." In the 1944 film, Bergman is the wife who fears she is going mad in Victorian London, "helped" along by her new husband played by Charles Boyer. Joseph Cotton and Angela Lansbury also star. The movie of mental manipulation is harrowing psychological thrills at its finest. 

"[Gaslighting] is a word that has risen so quickly in the English language, and especially in the last four years, that it actually came as a surprise to me and to many of us,” Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, told The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s announcement.

According to the dictionary, gaslighting is "psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one's emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator."

Classic movie fans recognize the term for the George Cukor-directed movie. A 1940 movie was also made based on the play but was not as popular at the time or as well-remembered today.

While the dictionary group said it didn't know why exactly the term has gotten so popular, it noted that the term spent all of 2022 in the top 50 words looked up on its website. 

In October, Lansbury -- everybody's favorite TV detective and star of an eclectic body of stage and film work -- died, just shy of her 97th birthday. 

Her long career began in the movies when the "Murder, She Wrote" actress was a teenager. She was just 17 when she got the role of sharp-tongued Cockney maid Nancy in 1944's "Gaslight." It was her first movie, and she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Bergman snagged a win for Best Actress Academy Award for "Gaslight," and the movie won for Best Art Direction as well. The classic also earned nominations for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Actor for Boyer. 

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>> To watch "Gaslight," find it on Amazon Prime