“Selfie” Crowned Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionary

Epic Kim Kardashian selfie courtesy of her Instagram.
Epic Kim Kardashian selfie courtesy of her Instagram.

Every November, the Oxford Dictionary announces their pick for Word of the Year, a title bestowed upon one word “judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance,” according to the Oxford Dictionary FAQs page. Every Word of the Year illuminates a particular peaking shared obsession — and this year’s WOTY is literally a self-portrait.

The 2013 Word of the Year is “selfie” — defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “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 the Oxford English Corpus (a mind-boggling database of 2 billion words in current English usage), selfie was first used back in 2003, with further research hinting at 2002 origins. Usage of “selfie” has surged 17,000% since 2012, according to Oxford.

Fittingly, it was creativeLIVE instructor Jennifer Lee who shared the first-ever selfie on Instagram — back on January 16, 2011, over a year before selfie queen Kim Kardashian even joined Instagram and two years before #selfie appeared as a hashtag on Twitter. What’s interesting about the selfie is that, by definition, it involves two very specific actions (photographing oneself and sharing the photo), both of which are acconmplished with a smart phone.

To learn how to take better selfies, check out these tips from Sue Bryce — because no one knows how to take better self-portraits than a professional glamour photographer.

Sources: The New York Times, Oxford English Dictionary, Instagram


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Whitney Ricketts is CreativeLive's Senior Communications Manager. Email her at whitney [dot] ricketts [at] creativelive [dot] com.