The biggest news events of this year – across politics, business, culture and cinema – prompted a sudden interest in an English word that now calls the word of the year: “complicit”. Searches for the word on the popular website grew about four times since last year.

Ivanka Trump, the daughter and adviser of President Donald Trump, could be involved in two of the three major spikes in interest for the word. The first one was on March 12, when actor Scarlett Johansson took a jibe at her on a TV show, with a tagline for a fragrance brand: “She’s beautiful, she’s powerful, she’s...complicit.” The name of the fragrance brand? “Complicit”.

The next came on April 5, when Ivanka Trump said on TV that she doesn’t “know what it means to be complicit”.

“This year a conversation that keeps on surfacing is what exactly it means to be ‘complicit’,” lexicographer Jane Solomon told AP. “Complicit has sprung up in conversations about those who speak out against powerful figures in institutions, and those who stay silent.”

Being complicit

In a release, noted how Facebook and Twitter often faced allegations of being “complicit” in alleged tampering by Russia in last year’s presidential elections, and so did the Republican Party as President Trump and his administration stumbled upon controversy after controversy. Human complicity in climate change became a matter of concern when Trump pulled the US out of the landmark Paris climate deal of 2015.

The accused men in the widening net of sexual harassment allegations over the last two months in the entertainment world “could not have carried out their actions without the complicity of many others”, added

The “complicity” of the healthcare industry in the opioid epidemic crisis, and of the whole nation in the circumstances leading to the deadliest year for fatal mass shootings in the US also caused interest in the word.

‘I will not be complicit’

Then there were those who refused to be complicit – as evident in the women’s march on International Women’s Day and the protests against racial discrimination on the sports field when sportsmen refused to kneel for the national anthem.

The third spike in searches for the word came in late October, when Arizona Republican Jeff Flake said: “I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr President, I will not be complicit.”