Oxford Dictionaries has unanimously decided that “selfie” is 2013’s word of the year. There seems to be no escaping the term, whether it is mocking the practice or taking a selfie in earnest, or in jest.
The term “selfie” seems to be getting a bad rap as it seems that, no matter the situation, somebody is snapping a self-portrait on their cell phone. The term describes a simple action, defined by Oxford as “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” The “art” of the selfie can be aided through the use of various filters or with a mirror. With front-facing cameras now the norm on smartphones, selfies are that much easier to take.
In case you are not on an expert of taking a selfie, a quick Google search will have you uploading your self-portrait, applying hashtags and posting to Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter in no time. There are also some “do’s” and “don’ts” when it comes to taking a good selfie. IBT’s resident expert suggests a “duckface” when taking a selfie and taking multiple photos to find the perfect image is completely acceptable. Our expert recommends not having your arm in the shot and to avoid taking any selfie with a tablet or iPad.
According to Oxford’s panel, there was little debate as to what 2013’s word of the year should be. The panel cites the term’s meteoric rise in popularity, a 17,000 percent increase from 2012, throughout the year, which includes mentions from the Obamas as well as Pope Francis. According to the dictionary, the earliest known usage dates back to 2002 in an Australian Internet Forum, the author describes taking a “selfie” after an unfortunate drunken tumble.
Selfie may soon be an umbrella term as other, more specific terms are used. Oxford’s list “helfie,” a self-portrait of one’s hair, “welfie,” or workout selfie, and “delfie,” or drunken selfie, as popular offshoots of the term. An early contender for 2014’s word of the year could be “legsie,” a self-portrait of one’s outstretched legs.
Despite Miley Cyrus’ viral performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, “twerk” fell just short of claiming the top spot. Other contenders included olinguito, the recently discovered mammal; schmeat, synthetic meat; bitcoin, digital currency; showrooming, similar to window shopping; and binge-watch, a marathon session of watching television. Bedroom tax was also on the shortlist which is described by the Associated Press as a term used by the UK’s Labor Party for 2012’s Welfare Reform Act.
Selfie and twerk are sure to be contenders for 2014’s banned word list, curated by Lake Superior State University. Last year’s list included YOLO, trending and fiscal cliff.
Charles Poladian joined IBTimes in October 2012 and, when not reporting on all things topical, can be found reading or photographing concerts.