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Selfie is the Word of the Year

Go admit it, you've taken one!

by Mark Hodgkinson Nov 19, 2013

  • Oxford Dictionaries has proclaimed the international Word of the Year for 2013 as ‘Selfie’ following a 17,000% increase in its use this last year.
    It’s a word indelibly linked to the rise in social media websites and smartphones, although it has been around since at least 2002 where it was used on an Australian online forum.

    The Oxford Dictionary gives the following definition of the word and it now has an official plural form:

    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
    Not surprisingly, it originated in Australia
    Its linguistic influences can already be seen, says Oxford Dictionaries, with several spin-off terms already in circulation. Terms such as helfie - a picture of one’s hair and belfie - a picture of your own backside sit alongside the likes of welfie, a workout selfie and drelfie , which is a self-shot photo whilst in a state of inebriation, to put it politely.

    Judy Pearsall explained the evolution of the word selfie: “Social media sites helped to popularize 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.

    “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 – so this helps to support the evidence for selfie having originated in Australia.”
    Binge-watching is also on the up, thanks to Netflix.
    Other words shortlisted include ‘bedroom tax’ and bitcoin, but our favourite is binge-watch, a verb meaning to watch multiple episodes of a television programme in rapid succession, typically by means of DVDs or digital streaming. Again, the terminology has been in use for some time but the rise of Netflix, and its ability to allow you to watch reams of programming in one sitting, has seen its usage explode.

    Right, we’re just off to spend our bitcoins on some video streaming and we’ll be sure to snap a selfie whilst we’re in the process.

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