Oxford Dictionaries, the traditional early bird in Word of the Year (WotY) contests, has announced its selection for 2013: selfie.
Oxford’s definition of selfie: “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
According to Oxford, “the frequency of the word selfie in the English language has increased by 17,000% since this time last year.” The word first surfaced in 2002 on an Australian online forum; it was added to OxfordDictionaries.com in August 2013. (The Australian citation was discovered earlier this year by a member of the American Dialect Society listserv, HugoVK, who posted it to Wiktionary.)
Selfie was independently selected by the American language scholar Allan Metcalf, who a month ago wrote in Lingua Franca that selfie was a “perfect word”:
It’s transparently about the self. It’s selfish, but the diminutive suffix -ie makes it cute selfish instead of mean selfish. And it is quite literally a self expression, in both senses of that term.
More WotY fun is still to come, leading up to the American Dialect Society’s vote on January 4, 2014, during the society’s annual meeting in Minneapolis. I’m working on my WotY list; how about you?