Words & Language

Words of the Year 2022

At Planet Word, we strive to make the museum experience fun, playful, unexpected, motivational, meaningful, and inclusive, and each of our galleries brings words and language to life in different ways. In our Words Matter gallery, you can listen to the stories of others who have felt the power of words and share the words that matter to you — from the words that describe you and your family to your favorite words in other languages and the words that remind you of your hometown.

As 2022 comes to a close, we asked Planet Word staff to share the word that they think sums up the year. Here are some of their answers! 


“In thinking of a word to describe 2022, I realized no discussion of the last year can go without mentioning the indomitable force that is Wordle, which became wildly popular among word-lovers (we even started our own endless game of Planet Wordle on a whiteboard in the office). But Wordle’s real impact on me was more personal. It’s been tough to keep in touch with my family during the pandemic because we live on opposite sides of the country, and our interactions have mostly been restricted to occasional FaceTimes and text messages. But my puzzle-loving mom and I were able to bond over Wordle — sending our scores back and forth, and even using the same starting word: adieu. It’s a strategic choice meant to quickly find vowels and, to me, the perfect word to encapsulate — and end — the year.”

— Rebecca Farkas, Digital Media Manager


“This year was a surreal mix of post-Covid19 ‘new normal’ and the old, ‘normal’ normal. There was seemingly always a discussion about whether plans should be in-person or remote. And then, if virtual would anyone even be interested in attending but if in-person would anyone be motivated enough to put on pants and leave the house. Financial markets bounced back in a big way, but somehow jobseekers cannot find any jobs and jobs cannot find any jobseekers. We’re all wearing mom jeans and watching as the government carefully, diplomatically avoids war with Russia — but I know it’s 2022 and not the ’80s because I’m getting all that news from TikTok on an iPhone14.

What a weird, weird discombobulated year we’ve all shared…”

— Sasha Myerson, Floor Supervisor


“In June, this headline caught my eye: ‘Everything Is Terrible, but I’m Fine.’ Personally, 2022 was a great year. I joined Planet Word, becoming part of a team and museum that truly awe me. For the first time since 2019, I traveled — really traveled — and discovered two wonderful new places. Contrast that to the pandemic; shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, and beyond; the overturning of Roe; unabated climate change; the war in Ukraine; crises in Iran, Haiti, Ethiopia… Heartache at the unending onslaught of bad news clashes with personal contentment. The Atlantic article put a name to this feeling: Mediaschmerz. It’s adopted from Weltschmerz, a German word meaning ‘world-weariness.’ Mediaschmerz, Derek Thompson writes, is ‘a sadness about the news cycle and news media, which is distinct from our everyday life…Individual hope and national despair…form the double helix of the American spirit.’ For me, that sums up 2022 precisely.”

— Jen Giambrone, Manager of Curatorial Affairs


“My 2022 was marked by change: a growing life, impossible loss, departures, role revisions, opportunities taken and those not. When the world is in flux, I rifle through the pockets of my heart to see what has stayed the same. Perhaps discarding some and finding others, I speak these truths aloud. At first, softly, then with increasing vehemence as I check on their resonance. Vehemence feels right, doesn’t it? I find there are, still, threads of my being I can characterize as powerful, strongly held, forcibly expressed, and appropriately itchy for the 2020s.”

— Caitlin Miller, Manager of Education Programs


“Like its definition, I’m always willing and able to adapt to many different functions and activities. I embrace a variety of subjects, fields and skills, with ease I’m able to turn from one thing to another. Having acquired many skills and a vast amount of knowledge over the course of my life and career is what really makes it possible for me to adapt to many surroundings, also not staying in my comfort zone of what is familiar to me. This year, I went from handling tasks in one department to working with my team members across all departments by becoming a fast learner, taking on tasks where my skills and knowledge were minimal but adapting to the tasks within each field — whether it happened to be contract writing, creating invoices, reconciling finances — and I know the success I gained in each has to do with my willingness to adapt.”

— Tiffany McConnaughey, Reservations and Administrative Assistant


What word would you use to describe 2022? Let us know what word you picked and why by tagging @PlanetWordDC and #PlanetWord on social media!