Word of the Year 2013 – Selfie


„Selfie“ has been named as word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries

„Selfie“ (an informal photo you take of yourself, usually to share on social networks) is the Oxford Dictionaries’ „Word Of The Year 2013,“ beating „twerking“ (a type of very provocative dancing).

Word of the year, selfieThe word has evolved from a niche social media tag into a mainstream term for a self-portrait photograph, the editors said. Research suggested its frequency in the English language had increased by 17,000% in the last year, they added.

Other shortlisted words included „twerk“ – a raunchy dance move performed by Miley Cyrus – and „binge-watch“ – meaning watching lots of TV.

„Schmeat“, meaning a form of meat synthetically produced from biological tissue, was also a contender.

Selfie, phablet, emoji

A few years ago, these words held little to no meaning for most Americans. But thanks to the onward creep of new and pervasive technologies like smartphones, Facebook and photo-sharing, and communication services like Snapchat and Instagram, they have become nearly ubiquitous.

In August, 2013, Oxford Dictionaries added the word “phablet,” which refers to the larger-than-life smartphones that appear to be a cross between a tablet computer and a smartphone. And it pinpointed several popular Internet abbreviations, including “FOMO,” which stands for the “fear of missing out” and “tl;dr,” which stands for “too long; didn’t read.”

Word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries“The additions may have only just entered the dictionary, but we’ve been watching them for a while now, tracking how and where they are used,” said the organization in its blog post.

Selfie’s linguistic productivity

The linguistic productivity is already being seen by the creation of a number of related terms, showcasing particular parts of the body like helfie (a picture of one’s hair) and belfie (a picture of one’s posterior); a particular activity – welfie (workout selfie) and drelfie (drunken selfie), and even items of furniture – shelfie and bookshelfie. In fact, it seems that the words knows no bounds, although some do seem rather forced, with multiple interpretations, like the apparent delfie (where the d could stand for dad, dog, double, or rather inexplicably dead) or melfie, with the m being explained as Monday, moustache, male, or mum. Whether any of these catch on in the same way is debatable.


Language is alive and forever changing. Approximately 25,000 new words are introduced into English on an annual basis. In the spirit of teaching you vocabulary skills in an entertaining way and to keep you with a finger on the linguistic pulse, the language network Verbalisti brings favourite ‘new’ words and expressions to the language in our FunVOCAB.

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