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There was another spike. This one also involved Ivanka Trump after an interview she gave to CBS News. … She didn’t know what it meant to be complicit. Maybe she was one of the people looking it up.
I don’t know if she was, because she came up with her own definition for what it means to be complicit right before she said that. When asked if she and her husband were complicit in the actions of her father, she said, “If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit.”
As It Happens Ivanka Trump on what it means to be ‘complicit’ LISTEN 00:00 00:18
This is really not at all what complicit means. Complicit is decidedly a negative term. At its core, it’s a word about responsibility and culpability. It’s a word about being held accountable for actions, behaviours and views. And here, she’s saying it’s about being a force for good and that’s not at all what it means.
After Ivanka Trump used the word ‘complicit’ during an interview, Dictionary.com saw a spike in people looking up the term. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)
The other spike actually does not involve Ivanka Trump. It was when Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who’s been critical of Donald Trump, announced that he was not going to run for re-election. … What do you make of his use of the word complicit?
One thing that he says is “silence can equal complicity.” And I think it is really really interesting and I think it’s true. Silence can often equal complicity. But sometimes, silence doesn’t equal complicity.
There are many, many good reasons why someone might stay silent. It could be about fear of retaliation, fear of endangering one’s safety or one’s loved ones or knowledge that nothing will change.
Play Republican Sen. Jeff Flake says ‘I will not be complicit’ JUMP TO BEGINNING OF THE TRACK SKIP BACK 15 SECONDS WATCH SKIP FORWARD 30 SECONDS ADJUST VOLUME 00:00 01:46
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Republican Sen. Jeff Flake says ‘I will not be complicit’1:46
Do you have any concerns about choosing a word that has some political weight that might look as if you are taking sides?
I guess there’s always a fear that there will be people who get very, very upset about the word and who docks you or troll you on social media.
In terms of Dictionary.com picking a word that may be seen as picking a side, I think that whatever side you’re on, you can view this word as something that is a commonality.
This is one of these words that you can mirror back at you what you want to see in it. I think that we can find complicity where we look for it, if that makes sense.
This interview transcript has been edited for length and clarity. For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Jane Solomon.
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