The Polaroid of the 21st century, better known as a "selfie," has taken social media by storm. And now it's taking the English language too. The publishers of the Oxford Dictionaries announced Tuesday "selfie" to be the word of the year for 2013.
The word of the year is an honor given to a word that commemorates the ingenuity of the English language. And this year "selfie" beat out words like "twerk," the provocative dance move that pop star Miley Cyrus spiraled into the spotlight with her VMA performance; "showrooming," the act of visiting a store to view an item only to go online and buy it at a lower price; and "binge-watch," the practice of watching episodes of a TV show in succession.
Everyone from Beyonce to the Pope has been spotted taking a "selfie," so its no wonder the word has been awarded dual nation acclaim. Defined as a "photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website," "selfie" is the quintessential word of 2013.
The use and frequency of the word "selfie" in the English language has increased by 17,000 percent in the last year, editors of the Oxford Dictionaries told the BBC.
Though the use of the word "selfie" took off in 2012, the origin of the word came a decade before in 2002 when a man posted a picture of his face with lacerations all over it, to an Australian online forum. He apologized for the fact the photo was blurry and out of focus by saying that it wasn't because he was drunk but because it was a "selfie."
Even the spelling of the word supports the claim that the word was first introduced down under. "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," Oxford Dictionaries Editorial Director Judy Pearsall said in a press release.
"Selfie" has been embraced so thoroughly that this year the word of the year was the same for both the U.S. and the U.K., where typically the two English speaking nations are each assigned their own.
While "selfie" already made its debut on OxfordDictionaries.com in August, deliberations for whether or not it will be entered into the Oxford English Dictionary are ongoing.