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Snap! 'Selfie' becomes International Word of the Year

Oxford Dictionaries' shortlist also included bitcoin, showrooming, twerk and schmeat

November 19, 2013 01:22 PM ET

Computerworld - If you posted selfies on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter this past year, you helped make "selfie" the Oxford Dictionaries' international Word of the Year for 2013.

Selfie, which means a photo taken of oneself, usually with a smartphone, and posted on a social network, was called out this year because of its sheer popularity.

"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," said Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, in a statement.

Selfie
Actor Liam Hemsworth takes a "selfie" with a fan at the premiere of the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in Los Angeles on Monday. (Photo: Reuters)

Actually, a study conducted by editors at Oxford Dictionaries showed that the frequency of the word "selfie" in the English language increased 17,000% since this time in 2012.

"Selfie can actually be traced back to 2002 when it was used in an Australian online forum," Oxford Dictionaries noted in a blog .

According to the dictionaries' editors, this was the first known usage of the word selfie, "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."

The word gained momentum throughout the English-speaking world in 2013, evolving from a social media buzzword to mainstream shorthand.

Dictionary editors also noted that the popularity of the word "selfie" can be seen in the number of "spin-off terms" that have cropped up. For instance, a helfie is a picture of one's hair and a belfie is a picture of one's posterior.

And a welfie is a workout selfie, while a drelfie is a drunken selfie.

Other contenders for the International Word of the Year included bitcoin, a digital currency, and showrooming, meaning to visit a store to see a product before buying it online at a lower price.

Also making the short list were twerk, which means to dance provocatively in a low, squatting position, along with binge-watch, which means to watch multiple episodes back to back of a television program; and schmeat, a derogatory term for synthetically produced meat from biological tissue.

This article, Snap! 'Selfie' becomes International Word of the Year, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at Twitter @sgaudin, on or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed Gaudin RSS. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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