Oxford word of the year: 'Selfie' beats 'twerk'

Dec 30 2013, 12:04 IST
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Other shortlisted buzzwords included 'twerk' and 'binge-watch' - meaning watching lots of TV. Reuters Other shortlisted buzzwords included 'twerk' and 'binge-watch' - meaning watching lots of TV. Reuters
SummarySelfie beat 'twerk' - a raunchy dance move performed by Miley Cyrus - to be named the word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries.

From Beyonce showing off her pixie cut to Michelle Obama playing with her dog, the trend of tweeting selfies has taken the online world by storm - and now 'selfie' has been declared Oxford's word of the year for 2013.

Selfie beat 'twerk' - a raunchy dance move performed by Miley Cyrus - to be named the word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries.

Selfie has evolved from a niche social media tag into a mainstream term for a self-portrait photograph typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media webs, according to Britain's Oxford University Press.

Language research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors reveals that the frequency of the word selfie in the English language has increased by 17,000 per cent since this time last year.

Other shortlisted buzzwords included 'twerk' and 'binge-watch' - meaning watching lots of TV.

"Schmeat", meaning a form of meat synthetically produced from biological tissue, was also a contender.

Selfie can actually be traced back to 2002 when it was used in an Australian online forum.

The word gained momentum throughout the English-speaking world in 2013 as it evolved from a social media buzzword to mainstream shorthand for a self-portrait photograph.

Its linguistic productivity is already evident in the creation of numerous related spin-off terms showcasing particular parts of the body like helfie (a picture of one's hair) and belfie (a picture of one's posterior); a particular activity - welfie (workout selfie) and drelfie (drunken selfie), and even items of furniture - shelfie and bookshelfie.

"Using the Oxford Dictionaries language research programme, 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," Judy Pearsall, Editorial Director for Oxford Dictionaries, said.

The Word of the Year need not have been coined within the past twelve months, but it does need to have become prominent or notable in that time.

Selfie was added to OxfordDictionaries.com in August 2013, although the Word of the Year selection is made irrespective of whether the candidates are already included in an Oxford dictionary.

Selfie is not yet in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), but is currently being considered for future inclusion.

The other words that were shortlisted include: 'bedroom tax', meaning a reduction in the amount of housing benefit paid to a claimant if the property; 'bitcoin' -

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