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gas·​light·​ing ˈgas-ˌlī-tiŋ How to pronounce gaslighting (audio)
: 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
Gaslighting can be a very effective tool for the abuser to control an individual. It's done slowly so the victim writes off the event as a one off or oddity and doesn't realize they are being controlled and manipulated.Melissa Spino
Gaslighting can happen in any relationship circumstance, including between friends and family members—not just in couple relationships.Deena Bouknight
This is a classic gaslighting technique—telling victims that others are crazy and lying, and that the gaslighter is the only source for "true" information. It makes victims question their reality …Stephanie Sarkis
: the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one's own advantage
Election season can create emotions spanning from immense anxiety all the way to extreme apathy. The public arguing, divisiveness, and competition for votes, including political gaslighting, can be overwhelming and exhausting.Vernita Perkins and Leonard A. Jason
As the midterm elections approach, Americans have gotten an earful both about crime itself and how the other side is distorting the news about it for political gain. "Cherry-picking!" "Fearmongering!" "Gaslighting!"Chris Herrmann and Fritz Umbach
Intense gaslighting techniques are making it difficult for Montana's commoners to discern what's truth and what's propaganda.Steve Kelly
This corporate gaslighting effectively blames children for being addicted to social media and conveniently ignores how companies have intentionally designed their products to have addictive features …Nancy Kim


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present participle of gaslight entry 2

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The Origin and Semantic Development of Gaslighting

The origins of gaslighting are colorful: the term comes from the title of a 1938 play and the movies based on that play, the plots of which involve a man attempting to make his wife believe that she is going insane. His mysterious activities in the attic cause the house’s gas lights to dim, but he insists to his wife that the lights are not dimming and that she can’t trust her own perceptions.

When gaslighting was first used in the mid-20th century, it referred to a kind of deception like that in the plots mentioned above (sense 1). In the current century, the word has come to refer also to something simpler and broader: “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for a personal advantage” (sense 2).

In this use, the word is at home with other terms relating to modern forms of deception and manipulation, such as fake news and deepfake.

The idea of a deliberate conspiracy to mislead has made gaslighting useful in describing lies that are part of a larger plan. Unlike lying, which tends to be between individuals, and fraud, which tends to involve organizations, gaslighting applies in both personal and political contexts, and is found in formal and technical writing as well as in colloquial use.

Its increasing use in many contexts contributed to making gaslighting Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2022.

Examples of gaslighting in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
And, look, there's a reason why there's a lot of journalists at NBC News uncomfortable with this because many of our professional dealings with the RNC over the last six years have been met with gaslighting, have been met with character assassination. Nbc Universal, NBC News, 24 Mar. 2024 That is the bullying, and the intimidation, the gaslighting that is happening in my community. Brenda Goodman, CNN, 3 Feb. 2024 See all Example Sentences for gaslighting 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gaslighting.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1961, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of gaslighting was in 1961

Dictionary Entries Near gaslighting

Cite this Entry

“Gaslighting.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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