Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year: Selfie

Oxford Dictionaries has just announced their selection of the Word of the Year 2013: "selfie," meaning those pictures that people take of themselves by either holding their camera at arm's length or pointing it toward a mirror -and normally uploaded to social media sites by the millions. From the press release:

Selfie can actually be traced back to 2002 when it was used in an Australian online forum.  The word gained momentum throughout the English-speaking world in 2013 as it evolved from a social media buzzword to mainstream shorthand for a self-portrait photograph. Its linguistic productivity is already evident in the creation of numerous related spin-off terms showcasing particular parts of the body like helfie (a picture of one’s hair) and belfie (a picture of one’s posterior); a particular activity – welfie (workout selfie) and drelfie (drunken selfie), and even items of furniture – shelfie and bookshelfie.

Judy Pearsall, Editorial Director for Oxford Dictionaries, explained the decision: “Using the Oxford Dictionaries language research program, which collects around 150 million words of current English in use each month, we can see a phenomenal upward trend in the use of selfie in 2013, and this helped to cement its selection as Word of the Year.” 

The Word of the Year need not have been coined within the past twelve months, but it does need to have become prominent or notable in that time. Selfie was added to OxfordDictionaries.com in August 2013, although the Word of the Year selection is made irrespective of whether the candidates are already included in an Oxford dictionary. Selfie is not yet in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), but is currently being considered for future inclusion.

Selfie beat out a list of other modern words that were in the running: bathroom tax, binge-watch, bitcoin, olinguito, schmeat, showrooming, and twerk. Strangely, the decision to crown selfie the Word of the Year was unanimous. Oxford Dictionaries has a detailed history of the word, which you can read at their blog.   


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A conversation between my sister and my niece:

My sister: I wonder who actually used the word "selfie" for the first time.

My niece (without missing a beat): And why has no one punched them in the face?
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