Oxford's 2013 Word Of The Year May Leave You Snapping A 'Selfie'
November 19, 2013

Oxford’s 2013 Word Of The Year May Leave You Snapping A ‘Selfie’

[ Watch the Video: Selfie Named 2013's Word Of The Year ]

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Oxford Dictionaries has just announced the new “Word of the Year” for 2013. Interestingly enough, this newly included entry is not an entirely new word but one that first posed more than a decade ago. The new inclusion for “Word of the Year 2013” goes to “Selfie.”

Via a blog post, the Oxford Dictionaries announced the Word of the Year on Monday:

“It’s that time of the year again. With a fanfare and a drum roll, it’s time to announce the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. The votes have been counted and verified and I can exclusively reveal that the winner is…. Selfie.”

The Oxford Dictionaries definition of selfie in English is “(n.) a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

What is unique about this particular word is that it isn’t new, just new to the dictionary. In fact, Reuters via GMA News noted the “origin can be traced back to an Australian online forum in 2002.”

Oxford Dictionaries reposted a Sept. 13, 2002 ABC Online (forum posting), which reads:  “Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

So why did it take nearly a dozen years for “selfie” to finally make it to the dictionary? In this case the word demonstrated a kind of prominence over the years, and more as the dictionary people pointed out, “anyone who is anyone has posted a selfie somewhere on the Internet.”

Research has shown the frequency of the use of the word “selfie” has increased by English speakers by 17,000 percent in the last year. It likely started out as something used on social media and photo-sharing sites such as Flickr and MySpace, but it took time for more widespread usage.

“Social media sites helped to popularize the term, with the hashtag #selfie appearing on the photo-sharing website Flickr as early as 2004, but usage wasn't widespread until around 2012, when selfie was being used commonly in mainstream media sources,” Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, told the BBC.

The word has also apparently evolved, with a variant spelling ending in “y” but with the “ie” form being the most common – and thus the version ending up as the “accepted spelling of the word.” It also shows that the Australians have a penchant for words ending in “ie” such as “tinnie” for a can of beer and “barbie” as the shortened form of barbecue.

While a word need not be coined in the past 12 months, it does need to become more prominent or notable during that time. Thus, selfie beat out some other serious contenders for the top word honors for 2013, including the likes of “Bitcoin,” and “Binge-watch,” which means watching a lot of TV.

Not everyone agrees with the decision that selfie deserved the top spot, and some have thought that Miley Cyrus – who is known for taking selfies – should have been enough for another choice to earn the title of “Word of the Year.”

“The news that selfie has been named the Oxford Dictionaries international Word of the Year 2013 means another word didn’t get a fair shake — nor did it get a fair jiggle,” Lily Rothman, writing for Time magazine, noted. “That word, of course, is twerk.”

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