‘Selfie’ edges ‘twerk’ for word of year


“Selfie” is the 2013 word of the year, Oxford Dictionaries announced Tuesday, edging out stiff competition from “twerk.”

Usage of the word has increased 17,000 percent over the past 12 months, said Oxford Dictionaries, which publishes the mammoth Oxford English Dictionary (OED), styled as the definitive record of the English language.

Selfie 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.”

In 2013 it evolved from a social media buzzword to mainstream shorthand for a self-portrait photo.

Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, said their language research program collects around 150 million words of current English in use each month.

“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,” she said.

The research found that the frequency of the word selfie in the English language increased by 17,000 percent since this time last year. The earliest known usage of the word was traced to an Australian online forum post in September 2002.

The other words on the shortlist for word of the year were bedroom tax (opponents’ term for a British welfare policy change); “binge-watch” (watching multiple television episodes in succession); bitcoin (a digital currency); olinguito (South American mammal), “schmeat” (synthetic meat), “showrooming” (looking at items in shops then buying online) and twerk.

The verb to twerk was described as to “dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.” Twerking rocketed to fame when U.S. performer Miley Cyrus did the dance at the MTV video music awards in August.