Selfie named 2013 word of the year

Tuesday 19 November 2013 11.05
International Space Station astronaut Aki Hoshide taking a selfie in space (Picture: NASA)
International Space Station astronaut Aki Hoshide taking a selfie in space (Picture: NASA)

Selfie has been named the word of 2013 by editors from Oxford Dictionaries, beating competition from twerk, binge-watch and showrooming.

Editors said the word has evolved from a niche social media tag into a mainstream term for a self-portrait photograph.

One of the most famous selfies this year was Pope Francis posing with teenagers at the Vatican.

The picture went viral on social media and was widely speculated as being the first ever "papal selfie".

Oxford said the earliest known usage is an Australian online forum post from 2002: "Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer 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."

Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, said: "Using the Oxford Dictionaries language research programme, 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."

She added: "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."

The frequency of the word selfie in the English language has increased by 17,000% since this time last year, according to research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors.

This figure is calculated by Oxford Dictionaries using a research programme which collects around 150 million English words currently in use from around the web each month.

This software can be used to track the emergence of new words and monitor changes in geography, register, and frequency of use.

Selfie has not yet been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, although it is being considered for future inclusion.

The shortlist for Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 included binge-watch (to watch multiple episodes of a television programme in rapid succession), showrooming (the practice of examining a product at a shop before buying it online at a lower price) and twerk (dancing in a sexually provocative manner by thrusting hip movements and adopting a low, squatting stance).

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