Gaslighting – Usage, Meaning & Examples in a Sentence

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Let’s take a moment to study a term that’s seen a rapid rise in usage, particularly in the realm of psychology and relationships: gaslighting. No, it has nothing to do with lighting a stove or starting a fire for your BBQ, but rather, it pertains to a complex and detrimental form of psychological manipulation. Let’s shed some light on it.

Meaning of Gaslighting

Gaslighting Usage Meaning Examples in a Sentence

At its core, gaslighting is a type of psychological abuse in which one person attempts to distort or manipulate another person’s perception of reality, causing them to question their sanity and memories.

This isn’t a friendly mind game of illusion but a damaging tactic used to gain control and create doubt in the victim’s mind. It’s like knowing someone who hits you, and when you confront them, they convince you they never laid a hand on you.

I once had a friend who would constantly pick fights with me. Even today, I don’t understand why. But whenever I’d try and talk to her about it, she’d try and convince me that we never fought, or if we did, it was always my fault. Don’t keep friends like that!

Is It Gas Lighting or Gaslighting?

Gaslighting Ngram
Gaslighting usage trend.

I know it’s tempting to split the word, but I’m here to confirm that it’s written as a single word, gaslighting. So, remember to keep it together when writing, just as you should if you ever face a situation where you’re being gaslit.

An Example of Gaslighting

It’s like when a parent accidentally steps on their kid’s foot, and the kid starts to cry. Instead of comforting or apologizing, the parent tells them it’s not a big deal and doesn’t hurt. 

Another example would be a wife worrying her husband is cheating after finding several bits of hard proof, but he convinces her she’s crazy and invading his privacy. 

Origin and Etymology Behind Gaslighting

This term literally meant to purposely make someone believe they’re insane and was made popular by a 1944 film called “Gaslight,” where a woman is convinced she’s gone mad, but it’s later revealed that her criminal husband was to blame in a plan to cover up his horrible actions.

One of his methods is subtly dimming the gas-powered lights in their home, then denying that the light changed, which prompts the term gaslighting.

Synonyms for Gaslighting

So, gaslighting is a very specific term, but I do have some other words that can be used in similar contexts.

  • Manipulating
  • Deceiving
  • Brainwashing
  • Misleading
  • Deluding

They don’t give quite the same effect on their own but can be used to describe the act of gaslighting.

How to Use Gaslighting in a Sentence

Gaslighting Usage Meaning Examples in a Sentence 1

To give you a clear understanding, here’s how the word gaslighting can be used in sentences across different tenses.

  • Mary was gaslighting her husband into thinking that all their problems were his fault.
  • He realized that his partner, Mary, had gaslighted him for years after he realized his memory of events and negative experiences were quite different from what she’d told him.
  • Stay away from those people; they will gaslight you until you doubt your own experiences.
  • You’re gaslighting me into believing this whole thing was all my fault, but I know the truth.
  • You can’t gaslight me! I was raised by gaslighting parents; I know it when I see it.
  • My mother gaslit me for an extended period of years, and it took me twice as long to break free of her mind games and start living a normal life.
  • After several interviews with victims of gaslighting, the host recognized it in her own life.
  • People gaslight because they have something to hide.
  • There are lots of males who are victims, but gaslighting has mostly female victims. 

Understand Your Experience of Reality

Gaslighting might not be the most pleasant topic, but it’s an important term to understand and recognize. Awareness of its meaning is crucial to safeguarding yourself or others from this form of psychological manipulation. It’s easy to fall into it, and gaslighters can appear to be any ordinary person.