Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year is “Feminism”

In a fitting end to a year of women’s activism and women’s stories, Merriam-Webster today announced that the 2017 Word of the Year is (drumroll, please…) “feminism.”

Mathias Wasik / Creative Commons

According to Merriam-Webster, lookups for “feminism” increased 70 percent in 2017, and spiked with each triumph for the movement we saw this year. Lookups spiked after the Women’s March movement took the country—and the entire world—by storm, making noise on every continent in at least 999 marches across the globe. Lookups spiked after Hulu released The Handmaid’s Tale, an eerily-timed re-iteration of Margaret Atwood’s seminal warning of the dangers that attacks on women’s rights mean for entire societies and democracies. Lookups spiked when Wonder Woman marched across a battlefield and broke box office records.

Merriam-Webster uses the same definition of feminism that guides us here at Ms.: “the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” That definition is also the rallying cry of our publisher, the Feminist Majority Foundation.

FMF launched in 1987 with a name that was both a consciousness-raiser and a hell-raiser. 30 years ago, using the “F-word” was no small matter; now, the term—and its namesake movement—are more popular than ever. 60 percent of women and 33 percent of men in the U.S. identify as feminists or strong feminists, according to an FMF poll.




Carmen Rios is a self-proclaimed feminist superstar and the former digital editor at Ms. Her writing on queerness, gender, race and class has been published in print and online by outlets including BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, DAME, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic, the National Women’s History Museum, SIGNS and the Women’s Media Center; and she is a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. @carmenriosss|