Word of the Year: Complicit

December 20, 2017

    The average person speaks about 7.3 million words per year, which comes down to approximately 20,000 words per day. Here we are, at the end of the year, most of us nearing that 7.3 million mark. And boy have we had a lot to say. The word on the tip of everyone’s tongue this year? On November 27, Dictionary.com announced that the 2017 Word of the Year is dun dun dun dunnn… “complicit”. Gee, I wonder how they came up with that one.

    According to the website, complicit is defined as “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others.” This little adjective produced spikes in the number of times it has been looked up on the site within the past year. Even I remember having it as a vocabulary word in English during my junior year. A word like complicit is not necessarily a word that commonly rolls off the tongue in casual conversation. That being said, in years past, there was no need for a word that so aptly encompasses the political and social turmoil that has occurred in 2017. Between the ongoing Russia investigation, sexual harassment allegations in both Hollywood and Washington, and countless mass shootings, America has certainly been involved in some illegal and or questionable acts.

    But here’s the thing: Dictionary.com didn’t choose the word complicit to represent those who did wrong, but rather those who did right. Upon announcing the word, the website said, “We chose our Word of the Year, in part, because of noteworthy stories of those who refused to be complicit. In the face of oppression and wrongdoing, this refusal to be complicit has been a grounding force of 2017.” With every bad situation, if you look hard enough, chances are you will see at least a sliver of a silver lining. And the events that took place this past year are no exception. In the face of the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in the United States, there was Marine vet Taylor Winston, who used a stolen truck to shuttle victims to the hospital. In response to the realization of what a problem sexual misconduct is in our society, the #MeToo campaign was born. And even after the bitter truth that dozens of politicians are being investigated for collusion, we can only hope that it will prevent future tampering in elections.

    After a year like this one, it is normal to wonder where things are going to go from here. Unfortunately, I, nor anyone else for that matter, has an answer. That being said, all we can do is try and do better than before. From now on, we should strive to be like Taylor Winston, and those who were brave enough to share their stories of sexual harassment with the world. They are the people who decided to do good in spite of other people’s complicity. For now, it seems my word count for the year is nearing its 7.3 million mark. I’ve said a lot this past year, and although there is still much more to say, it will have to wait until January, when the clock on our yearly word count resets again. See you next year.


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