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‘Selfie’ named Word of the Year 2013

‘Selfie’ named Word of the Year 2013

19 November 2013

Oxford Dictionaries today announced ‘Selfie’ as its International Word of the Year 2013.


The Word of the Year is a word or expression that has attracted a great deal of interest during the year to date.


Selfie noun, informal (also selfy; plural selfies) is 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.’


Language research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors reveals that its frequency in the English language has increased by 17,000% compared to the same time last year.


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


Candidates for the Word of the Year are drawn initially from the Oxford Dictionaries New Monitor Corpus, a research programme which collects around 150 million words of current English in use each month, using automated search criteria to scan new web content. Sophisticated software allows the dictionaries team to identify new and emerging words on a daily basis and examine the shifts that occur in geography, register, and frequency of use.

Dictionary editors also flag other notable words for consideration, and suggestions made via the OxfordWords blog and social media are also taken into account. The final Word of the Year selection team is made up of lexicographers and consultants to the dictionary team, and editorial, marketing, and publicity staff.


Other words shortlisted for this year’s award were bedroom tax, binge-watch, bitcoin, olinguito, schmeat, showrooming, and twerk.


Judy Pearsall, Editorial Director for Oxford Dictionaries, explained the decision: “Using statistical data drawn from 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.” 

For more information, visit the Oxford Words blog.