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Nov 19, 2013 07:14 AM EST

‘Selfie’ is the International Word of the Year

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'Selfie,' which debuted in the 'Oxford English Dictionaries Online' just three months ago, has been named the International Word of the Year. The word, which has gained popularity among all ages, has progressed from just a social media tag into a mainstream term for a self picture taken on a phone .

Selfie is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as 'a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.' Its usage in the English language has jumped by 17,000 percent in the last year, BBC reports.

"Using the Oxford Dictionaries language research program, which 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," Oxford Dictionaries Editorial Director Judy Pearsall said, Today reports.

Other contenders for the title were 'twerk,' 'binge-watch' (watching lots of TV), 'Schmeat' (a form of meat synthetically produced from biological tissue), 'showrooming' and 'Bitcoin.'

The title is conferred on creative words or expressions that have become well-known or famous among English speakers. In 2004, the word of the year was 'chav'; 2005 - 'Sudoku'; 'carbon footprint' in 2007; in 2008 it was 'credit crunch'; 'unfriend' in 2009, and last year it was 'omnishambles.'

Oxford usually announces separate word of the year for the U.S. and the U.K., but this year 'selfie' captured the attention on both sides of the Atlantic.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, selfie was first used by an Internet user in a post in an Australian online forum in 2002. The user posted a picture of injuries to his face sustained when he tripped over steps. He apologized for the out of focus image by saying that the picture was not the result of being drunk, but it was a selfie.

The word became more fashionable as a hashtag on the photo sharing website Flickr in 2004, but only found its way into the mainstream in 2012 with the help of Twitter and Instagram.

"Social media sites helped to popularise the term, with the hashtag #selfie appearing on the photo-sharing website Flickr as early as 2004, but usage wasn't widespread until around 2012, when selfie was being used commonly in mainstream media sources," Judy said, BBC reports.

"The use of the diminutive -ie suffix is notable, as it helps to turn an essentially narcissistic enterprise into something rather more endearing," Judy said. "Australian English has something of a penchant for -ie words - barbie for barbecue, firie for firefighter, tinnie for a can of beer - so this helps to support the evidence for 'selfie' having originated in Australia."

Selfie was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online in August, but yet has to make its way to the Oxford English Dictionary.

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