Word of the Year 2013

atkins-bookshelf-wordsTechnology not only dramatically impacts how we work, it also shapes our language — the words we use in our daily lives. Last year, the editors of the Oxford American Dictionaries selected the 25-year old word GIF (an acronym for Graphic Interchange Format), that transitioned from a noun to a verb, as the word of the year in the U.S. (the U.K. word of the year, however, was omnishambles). This year the word of the year, for both U.S. and U.K., is another techy word: selfie. A selfie is a self-portrait. The word is actually 11 years old, introduced in an Australian online forum back in 2002. Thanks to an inebriated Aussie tripping on the stairs, the word selfie literally stumbled into the world; the post from September 13, 2002 reads: “Um, drunk at a mates 21st [birthday party], 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 1 cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

Editorial Director for Oxford Dictionaries, Judy Pearsall, explains the selection of selfie as the word of the year: “Social media sites helped to popularize the term, with the tag ‘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. In early examples, the word was often spelled with a -y, but the -ie form is more common today and has become the accepted spelling. The use of the diminutive -ie suffix is notable, as it helps to turn an essentially narcissistic enterprise into something rather more endearing. Australian English has something of a penchant for -ie words – barbie for barbecue, firie for firefighter, tinnie for a can of beer.”

 Other contenders considered by the panel of judges included:
1. Bedroom Tax (U.K.): Reduction in housing benefits paid based on government criteria

2. Binge-watch: to watch many episodes (via DVD or streaming) of a TV program successively

3. Bitcoin: digital currency that does not require a central bank

4. Olinguito: a small furry animal, a member of the raccoon family, found in the forests of Ecuador and Colombia

5. Schmeat: meat made synthetically from biological tissue

6. Showrooming: visiting brick-and-mortar stores to check out a product before buying it online, generally for a lower price

7. Twerk: a sexually provocative dance movement that involves thrusting of hips while in a squatting stance.

Read related posts: Word of the Year 2012 (U.S.)
Word of the Year 2012 (U.K.)

For further reading: blog.oxforddictionaries.com/press-releases/oxford-dictionaries-word-of-the-year-2013/