Oxford Word of The Year? Dictionary Takes a 'Selfie'

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Ever thought Oxford Dictionary wasn’t cutting edge, cool and contemporary? Well shut up: the guys at the office are taking selfies all the time, twerking around their desks and binge watching House of Cards when they get home. It’s 2013.

Miley CyrusMiley Cyrus is a real twerker

That convoluted opening paragraph exists because Oxford Dictionaries named 'Selfie' as their “Word of The Year”, while Twerk and Binge-watch were both shortlisted for the prize.

Just in case you didn’t know, a ‘selfie’ is a photo taken of one’s self. You can even do it in Grand Theft Auto, just pull out your phone and snap a selfie, it’s easy. ‘Twerking’ involves provocatively dancing to a pop song, while binge-watching is the practise of consuming numerous episodes of a TV show in one sitting.

Selfie is actually defined by Oxford Dictionaries as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website". To qualify for the award, a word doesn’t have to have been coined in the past year, but must be a noticeable presence in the cultural zeitgeist. And selfie certainly fits those criteria with the continuous evolution of both technology and social media.

Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, said: "Social media sites helped to popularise 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." (BBC)

Rihanna Rihanna is a prolific taker - and keen advocate of - the selfie

But where does the word come from? Pearsall’s the one to explain: "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,” she said.

“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 … so this helps to support the evidence for selfie having originated in Australia."


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