Lifestyle & Belief

'Selfie' declared word of the year 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries


Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd takes a "selfie" with a member of the public and then opposition leader Tony Abbott on Aug. 28, 2013.



Australians, stand up and take a "selfie."

The term, which originated in Australia and has become mainstream shorthand for a self-portrait taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website, has been declared by Oxford Dictionaries as word of the year for 2013.

Researchers believe "selfie" was first used on an Australian online forum in 2002. While the word is more than 10 years old, its usage in the English language only took off in the past 12 months with the help of Instagram and Twitter. Famous "selfies" include Michelle Obama and her dog, Bo, and Hillary Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea.

"It seems likely that it may have originated in the Australian context," dictionary editor Katherine Martin said.

"The earliest evidence that we know of at the moment is Australian and it fits in with a tendency in Australian English to make cute, slangy words with that 'ie' ending." Examples include “barbie” for barbeque, “tinnie” for a can of beer and “firie” for firefighter.

This was the posting on the ABC Online forum on Sept. 13, 2002, that gave rise to the term “selfie”:

"Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie."

Oxford Dictionaries said “selfie” was unanimously chosen from a shortlist of contenders that included “twerk” (to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner), “showrooming” (the practice of visiting a shop to look at a product and then buying it online at a cheaper price), and “Bitcoin” (the digital currency).

The word doesn't have to be new, but it must have had "some kind of prominence over the preceding year," Oxford Dictionaries said.

Previous words of the year include “unfriend” in 2009, “credit crunch” in 2008, and “carbon footprint” in 2007.