Monday, December 9, 2013

Selfie tops Twerk as Oxford's word of the Year

Selfie
Selfie
Selfie' has been named the word of 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries, beating 'twerk', 'binge-watch' and 'showrooming' as the most popular new term of the year. Editors from Oxford Dictionaries said selfie has evolved from a niche social media tag into a mainstream term for a self-portrait photograph. It beat terms such as 'twerk' - made famous by Miley Cyrus and her appropriation of the move during a performance of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines, 'binge-watch' referring to when somebody watches a number television episodes in one sitting and 'showrooming', where a product is examined at a shop before being bought cheaper online. A selfie is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: "A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website."
In alphabetical order, the shortlisted words for the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 are:

bedroom tax, noun, informal:
(in the UK) a reduction in the amount of housing benefit paid to a claimant if the property they are renting is judged to have more bedrooms than is necessary for the number of the people in the household, according to criteria set down by the government.

binge-watch, verb:
to watch multiple episodes of a television programme in rapid succession, typically by means of DVDs or digital streaming. [ORIGIN 1990s: from BINGE + WATCH, after BINGE-EAT, BINGE-DRINK.]

bitcoin, noun:
a digital currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank. Also, a unit of bitcoin. [ORIGIN early 21st century: from BIT, in the computing sense of ‘a unit of information’ and COIN.]

olinguito, noun:
a small furry mammal found in mountain forests in Colombia and Ecuador, the smallest member of the raccoon family. (Taxonomic name Bassaricyon neblina)  [ORIGIN 2013: diminutive form of OLINGO, a South American mammal resembling the kinkajou.]

schmeat, noun, informal:
a form of meat  produced synthetically from biological tissue. [ORIGIN early 21st century: perhaps from SYNTHETIC and MEAT, influenced by the use of ‘- -, schm - -’ as a disparaging or dismissive exclamation (e.g. fancy schmancy: ‘some of the gourmet sauces you get in fancy schmancy places are just too spicy for me’).]

showrooming, noun:
the practice of visiting a shop or shops in order to examine a product before buying it online at a lower price. [ORIGIN early 21st century: from SHOWROOM ‘a room used to display goods for sale’.]

twerk, verb:
dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance. [ORIGIN 1990s: probably an alteration of WORK.]

twerk
Twerk

One of the most popular selfies of this year was arguably the first one to feature a member of the Vatican, showing Pope Francis posing with teenagers in a selfie that quickly went viral. Mr Cameron also found himself embroiled in a selfie faux pas by his wife's sister on the morning of her wedding day, showing the Prime Minister asleep on a four poster bed.Oxford Dictionaries said the earliest known usage is an Australian online forum post from 2002: “Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped over 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 popularize the term, with #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.”

The frequency of the word selfie used in the English language has increased by 17,000 per cent since this time last year. 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 every month. Oxford Dictionaries has been awarding this title to words that attracted a lot of interest during a particular year since 2004. Previous words of the year include "omnishambles" (2012), "squeezed middle" (2011), "refudiate" (2010) and "unfriend" (2009).

Which words have been selected as Word of the Year in recent years?

Year
Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year
Oxford Dictionaries US Word of the Year
2004
chav
2005
sudoku
podcast
2006
bovvered
carbon-neutral
2007
carbon footprint
locavore
2008
credit crunch
hypermiling
2009
simples
unfriend
2010
big society
refudiate
2011
squeezed middle
2012
omnishambles
GIF (verb)


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