Today I learned what gaslighting is. Apparently, it's a psychological manipulation technique used by sociopaths meant to create confusion and doubt in a person by forcing them to have doubts about their sanity and memory. But where does that term come from? Well, in 1938, a British play called Gas Light was released, in which a guy attempts to convince his wife that she's going insane through manipulating her environment. Then, in 1944, this was made into its namesake movie, starring Ingrid Bergman alongside Charles Boyer, and the term exploded into popular culture. By the 1980s, this was widely accepted as a phrase by psychologists. The name of the play comes from the fact that, in the play, the wife was convinced that the gas light in the house was dimming. Just like the screen you're reading this on right now. It is dimming; don't you notice? Losing brightness ever so slightly... how weird...
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.