You’ve seen “selfies” all over Instagram. You’ve probably taken a few yourself. And now, the trendy self-portrait term has been declared 2013’s Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries, beating out “bitcoin,” “binge-watch” and the ever-topical “twerk.”
Oxford Dictionaries immortalized the selfie movement in its blog, calling this year’s choice a unanimous decision. The term was a part of Oxford’s Words on the Radar feature in 2012, and officially became part of the English language earlier this year. While “selfie” has just recently become standard slang among smartphone addicts, Oxford notes that the term’s usage can be traced all the way back to an Australian message board post in 2002 in which the writer stated “Sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”
The rise of the selfie has given way to many variations on the term. According to Oxford, “helfie” is a hair-focused selfie, while a “belfie” sometimes references a user’s rear end. An infographic on Oxford’s website shows a steady rise of “selfie” usage over the past few years, and it’s no surprise why. With photo filtering apps and front-facing smartphone cameras that are sharper than ever, it’s never been this easy to snag a quick shot of yourself. And thanks to video sharing apps such as Vine, users can set their selfies into motion.
Given its ubiquity, selfie is a fitting choice for word of the year. As Oxford points out, “If it is good enough for the Obamas or The Pope, then it is good enough for Word of the Year.”