In the most heated race since last week's bitterly fought contest that you may have heard about, “GIF” beat out fierce competition from a host of other new-fangled words to become the Oxford American Dictionaries' 2012 word of the year, according to The New York Observer.
For Internet junkies, GIFs — Graphics Interchange Formats, a common format for Internet images -- truly were an unstoppable force this year, appearing all over Tumblr blogs and Reddit, especially during election season. At Oxford, the higher-up wordsmiths agreed that 2012 was a breakout year for GIFs, and that the moving medium holds a significant position in the world of communication technology.
“GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun,” Katherine Martin, head of the U.S. dictionaries program at Oxford, said in a statement. “The GIF has evolved from a medium for pop-cultural memes into a tool with serious applications including research and journalism, and its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace.”
GIF was never a shoe-in for the award, however. This year, like any other, it faced steep competition to win the word of the year title.
Among the top contenders were Eurogeddon (the potential financial collapse of the euro zone, envisaged as having catastrophic implications for global economic stability), Super PAC (a type of independent political action committee which may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, and individuals but is not permitted to contribute to or coordinate directly with parties or candidates—popularized by Comedy Central funnyman Stephen Colbert who created his own), and Superstorm (an unusually large and destructive storm — like to Hurricane Sandy).
Longer down the contenders list lies YOLO — an acronym for “you only live once,” which has been widely disseminated by American teenagers, college students and pop artists, like Drake.
Each year Oxford announces two winners — one American, the other British. On the other side of the pond, Oxford named “omnishambles” -- a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations — its term of the year, according to The Toronto Star.
The winning word was coined by writers of the satirical show “The Thick of It” and has been used all over England to describe government PR meltdowns and the nation's scurried attempt to secure its 2012 Olympic Games. The term was altered to “Romneyshambles” after English citizens and officials became angry at Mitt Romney for expressing doubt about the nation's ability to host a successful Olympics.