Gaslighting: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

Last Updated on
October 7, 2023

1. Gaslighting (noun): A form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or sanity.
2. Gaslighting (verb): The act of deliberately manipulating someone to doubt their own perceptions or sanity.

Gaslighting is a term rooted in psychological manipulation. It references the method by which one individual attempts to alter the reality of another, typically for control or personal gain. Recognizing and understanding the term is crucial for personal relationships and societal interactions.

"Gaslighting" Definition: What Does "Gaslighting" Mean?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a person or group causes someone to question their own sanity, memories, or perception of reality. People who experience gaslighting may feel confused, anxious, or unable to trust themselves. Gaslighting can undermine self-esteem, confidence, identity, and sense of reality. It can also make a person more vulnerable to further manipulation and abuse. It can occur in any relationship, such as romantic, familial, professional, or social.

Some common signs of gaslighting include:

  • Being lied to or misled repeatedly.
  • Being made to feel crazy, wrong, or irrational.
  • Being blamed for things that are not your fault.
  • Having your feelings or concerns dismissed or trivialized.
  • Having your memories or experiences denied or distorted.
  • Feeling isolated from others or losing support from friends and family.
  • Feeling dependent on the abuser or doubting your own judgment.

Parts of Speech

"Gaslighting" can function as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it represents the concept or act of manipulating someone psychologically. As a verb, it describes the act of perpetrating this manipulation.

How to Pronounce "Gaslighting"?

"Gaslighting" is pronounced in three syllables. The first syllable, "gas," sounds like "gass" in "gassy." The second syllable, "light," sounds like "lite" in "lightweight." The third syllable, "ing," has a soft "g" sound.

Phonetic Pronunciation: ˈgæsˌlaɪtɪŋ (Stress on 'gas')

Synonyms of "Gaslighting": Other Ways to Say "Gaslighting"

While "gaslighting" is the most specific term for this form of manipulation, some related terms share elements of its meaning.

  • Manipulating
  • Mind games
  • Psychological warfare

Antonyms of "Gaslighting": Other Ways to Say "Gaslighting"

Antonyms for "gaslighting" pertain to actions or behaviors that affirm someone's reality or perceptions.

  • Validating
  • Affirming
  • Supporting

Examples of "Gaslighting" in a Sentence

The term "gaslighting" is often used in the context of personal relationships or societal narratives.

Here are ten sentences that demonstrate its varied applications:

1. Her constant gaslighting made him doubt every decision he made.
2. "You're remembering it wrong," she said, a classic case of gaslighting.
3. Psychological experts warn about the dangers of gaslighting in intimate relationships.
4. He was trying to psych her out by gaslighting her into thinking she was losing her mind.
5. Many survivors of abuse recount instances of being gaslighted by their perpetrators.
6. The campaign was accused of gaslighting the public with misleading information.
7. He tricked him into signing the contract by gaslighting him about the terms and conditions.
8. She was done with his gaslighting and manipulation and finally stood up for herself.
9. He fed into her insecurities by gaslighting her about her appearance and weight.
10. In the novel, the protagonist kills the villain in cold blood after years of enduring his gaslighting and abuse.

Frequency of Use

The term "gaslighting" has grown in popularity in recent years, especially in discussions surrounding mental health and interpersonal relationships. As discussions around psychological manipulation gain prominence, "gaslighting" is increasingly recognized and employed in academic and casual conversations. It is an essential term for understanding nuanced forms of emotional and psychological abuse. Although not as frequently used as common prepositions or verbs, its significance in modern discourse cannot be overlooked.

Variants of "Gaslighting"

The term "gaslighting" primarily refers to the psychological manipulation tactic, but the verb form "to gaslight" can take different conjugations and forms.

1. Gaslight: The verb form implies the action of psychologically manipulating someone.
2. Gaslit: Past tense of gaslight, indicating a completed action of manipulation.

Related Terms to "Gaslighting"

Several terms are related to "gaslighting," each with a specific meaning and application, often referring to various forms of manipulation or deceit.

1. Manipulation
2. Deception
3. Brainwashing
4. Psychological abuse
5. Mind games
6. Deceit
7. Emotional blackmail
8. Exploitation

Etymology: History and Origins of "Gaslighting"

The term "gaslighting" is derived from the 1938 play "Gas Light" by Patrick Hamilton and its subsequent film adaptations, where a husband manipulates his wife into believing she's losing her sanity. The husband, among other things, dims the gas lights and then denies that it's dimmer, making her doubt her own perceptions. This methodical attempt to distort the wife's reality gave birth to the term "gaslighting" to describe such manipulative behaviors.

Derivatives and Compounds of "Gaslighting"

The word "gaslighting" has led to a few derivatives and compounds that capture the essence of this manipulative tactic.

1. Gaslighter: A person who engages in gaslighting.
2. Gaslit: The state or condition of being manipulated by gaslighting.

Common Misspellings of "Gaslighting"

Given the significance of the term "gaslighting" in modern discourse, spelling it correctly is essential. However, common misspellings can occur.

Here are some frequent misspellings:

1. Gasligting
2. Gasslighting
3. Gaslitting

10 Idioms Similar to "Gaslighting"

Though no idioms use the word "gaslighting," there are idioms related to deceit, manipulation, and truth distortion that capture its essence.

1. Pull the wool over someone's eyes
2. Lead someone up the garden path
3. Throw someone off the scent
4. Play mind games
5. Sell someone a bill of goods
6. Take someone for a ride
7. Give someone the runaround
8. Talk out of both sides of one's mouth
9. Blow smoke up someone's chimney
10. Play fast and loose

10 Common Questions About "Gaslighting"

Given its psychological implications and modern relevance, "gaslighting" generates various questions. These delve into its meaning, origins, and manifestations.

1. What does "gaslighting" mean in a relationship?

"Gaslighting" in a relationship refers to when one partner manipulates the other into doubting their own feelings, memories, or realities, often to gain control or avoid accountability.

2. How can one recognize if they are being "gaslighted"?

Signs of being "gaslighted" include constantly second-guessing oneself, feeling confused or crazy, frequently apologizing, and feeling isolated from friends and family.

3. Is "gaslighting" a form of emotional abuse?

Yes, "gaslighting" is a form of psychological and emotional abuse.

4. How did "gaslighting" get its name?

The term comes from the 1938 play "Gas Light" and its film adaptations, where a husband manipulates his wife into thinking she's going insane, partially by dimming the gas lights and denying any change.

5. How to handle a person who is "gaslighting" you?

Handling a gaslighter involves recognizing the behavior, trusting one's perceptions, setting boundaries, seeking support, and considering professional therapy.

6. Can "gaslighting" occur in professional settings?

Yes, "gaslighting" can occur in workplaces or professional settings where individuals may manipulate others to gain an advantage or evade responsibility.

7. Why is "gaslighting" considered dangerous?

"Gaslighting" is dangerous because it can lead to the victim losing trust in their own perceptions, feelings, and realities, potentially resulting in decreased self-worth, anxiety, depression, and even trauma.

8. Is "gaslighting" intentional?

While "gaslighting" can be intentional, some individuals might engage in this behavior without conscious malice, often driven by their own insecurities or denial.

9. How to recover from "gaslighting"?

Recovery from "gaslighting" involves rebuilding self-trust, seeking therapy, reconnecting with supportive loved ones, educating oneself about the tactic, and setting boundaries.

10. Can "gaslighters" change?

While change is possible, the gaslighter must recognize their behavior, take accountability, and undergo sincere efforts, possibly with professional therapy, to rectify their actions.


"Gaslighting" references a subtle yet potent form of psychological manipulation. It's crucial to recognize and combat this behavior for mental well-being. Identifying gaslighting in personal relationships, workplaces, or societal narratives is the first step in ensuring emotional and psychological safety. Knowledge about "gaslighting" not only aids personal understanding but also promotes collective awareness about emotional and psychological boundaries in interactions. Explore our entire definitions section to learn more about words and their meanings.

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