The publisher determines which words are in the top spots by evaluating what the most searched for words in the given years.
Topping the list this year, as reported by EW, is "feminism," which is believed to have been driven heavily by the Trump administration, as well as news coverage of the Women’s March, and when Trump Administration advisor Kellyanne Conway revealed that she did not define herself as a feminist.
Merriam-Webster defines feminism in two ways. First, as "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes," and, second, as an "organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests."
Additionally, entertainment projects such as the Wonder Woman film and Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale also helped to drive "feminism" to be the most-searched term of the year.
The remaining nine words, and their definitions, on the Merriam-Webster Top 10 list are as follows:
Complicit - Helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.
Recuse - To disqualify (oneself) as judge in a particular case; broadly : to remove (oneself) from participation to avoid a conflict of interest.
Empathy - The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner
Dotard - A person in his or her dotage.*
Syzygy - The nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system.
Gyro - (No specific definition given. Could be related to gyrocompass and/or gyroscope.)
Federalism - The distribution of power in an organization (such as a government) between a central authority and the constituent units.
Hurricane - A tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes.0comments
Gaffe - A social or diplomatic blunder; a noticeable mistake.
(*Dotage is defined as: A state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness.)