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Oxford Dictionaries word of 2013? It's 'selfie'

19th November 2013

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The defining moment might have been when the Pope, surrounded by a group of teenagers, posed for a picture at the Vatican in August.

Or maybe it was when Kim Kardashian posted that post-baby derriere shot in the white bikini and quickly gained a million Instagram likes.

Either way, the (not so) humble selfie has made a sufficient enough impact to be crowned word of 2013 by that hallowed tome, the Oxford English Dictionary.

After increasing in usage by 17,000% in the last year, ‘selfie’ beat off ‘twerking’ to win the obviously much coveted title, after successfully navigating the transition from niche social media term to commonly used part of our everyday language.

Also in the running was ‘binge-watch’, which might sound like the common occurrence of trying to get home amongst drunken revellers on a Saturday evening – but in fact is the term given to watching hours and hours of Breaking Bad (or, you know, any TV) in one sitting.   

Editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, Judy Pearsall, 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."

And how is the phenomenon defined by Oxford Dictionaries Online? As "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website."

We think that a contender for 2014’s word of the year could be ‘hashtag’, especially after a child was allegedly named after the keyword identifying keyboard symbol earlier this year.

Here are the Oxford Dictionaries words of the year for the last five years. It reads like a sociological journey through the last half decade in semantics. Enjoy.

2012 – Omnishambles

2011 – Squeezed middle

2010 – Refudiate

2009 – Unfriend

2008 – Credit crunch

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