Trend Watch

Hostage's Time in Captivity was 'Kafkaesque'

Lookups rise after the Taliban release an imprisoned American family

Lookups for Kafkaesque spiked on October 12, 2017, following reports of the release of an American woman and her family after five years of captivity in Afghanistan. They were abducted while backpacking. The New York Times reported:

In December 2016, the militants released a video of the family, including footage depicting her two children. She described her time as a hostage as “Kafkaesque” and said she had been “defiled.”

Defile, meaning “to make unclean or impure” also spiked in our data from its use in this statement.

Kafkaesque means, when used in its broadest sense, “having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality.” Its original specific meaning is “of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writing,” referring to Kafka’s work that evoked the anxiety, isolation, and helplessness of the individual in the modern world, particularly when facing institutions or bureaucracies that seem indifferent and cruel.

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