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Sorry, twerk and bitcoin, selfie is Oxford's Word of the Year

Off-Ramp host John Rabe scores a rare Double-Selfie. (Selfie picked 2013 Oxford Word of the Year)
Off-Ramp host John Rabe scores a rare Double-Selfie. (Selfie picked 2013 Oxford Word of the Year)
John Rabe

selfie noun, informal

(also selfy; plural selfies)

a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website


Oxford Dictionaries today announced that selfie beat twerking, schmeat, and bitcoin to become its international Word of the Year 2013.

It's all about the numbers. We're taking selfies, we're posting selfies and writing, "here's my selfie."  

Oxford Dictionaries, the folks who give us the compendious Oxford English Dictionary, uses a computer program to detect all the "selfies" out there, and says use is up 17,000 percent over this time last year.

You can thank or blame the Aussies:

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.

2002 ABC Online (forum posting) 13 Sept.
“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.”

-- Oxford Dictionaries

Selfie isn't in the OED yet, but is being considered. Previous Words of the Year include podcast (2005), locavore (2007),  and unfriend (2009).

Other words in the running for Word of the Year 2013:

(Pensoft Publishers/Wikipedia Commons)


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