The Oxford English Dictionary has awarded ‘Word of the Year’ status to the term ‘selfie’.
The editors of the dictionary claim that the usage of ‘selfie’ has increased by 17,000 per cent in the past year.
The first recorded use of the word was logged in 2004 on popular image sharing site Flickr.
According to the criteria for the award, although the winning word does not have to be coined within the year, it does have to have seen a significant increase in usage.
Researchers claimed that the popularisation of ‘selfie’ has been due to a rise in social media, especially around sites such as Instagram or Twitter, as well as the easier availability of smart phones, the medium by which a large proportion of ‘selfies’ are taken.
An Oxford English Dictionary research program, which collects approximately 150 million English words currently in use around the web, calculated the rise in ‘selfie’. The program is also used to track the emergence of new words and to observe changes in the use, register and geography of words.
The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary have also noted that, contrary to its original use as a hashtag to classify photographs, ‘selfie’ is a word now used in a wider array of settings.
It also managed to beat off competition from ‘twerk’, a word now infamously associated with Miley Cyrus, ‘binge-watch’ – watching a large amount of television at once, and ‘schmeat’, meaning meat which is synthetically produced.
Oxford students have reacted to the news in a number of ways. Joe Smith, a fresher at Somerville College, appeared to understand the reasoning behind the decision, noting that the choice of ‘selfie’ “accurately portrays the progression of technology”. However, he said: “‘Selfie’ winning shows how more of us are concerned with our appearances and becoming more self-revolved. It also shows how we are using photography as a form of expression as selfies have become social tools by which we communicate, but also how influenced we have become by celebrity ‘selfie’ culture.”
Krishan Bhalla, another Somerville student, commented: “It shows a social recognition of the bringing together of great vanity with an increased, and perhaps humbling, knowledge of oneself, and how we choose to portray ourselves to the world. I consider it a step away from believing that others define our own images, and towards the self-conscious way in which we portray ourselves in whatever manner we so wish, with such pride that we Instagram it for the world to see. I feel it reflects a lack of care for previous social hierarchy.”
Andreea Raslescu, an Experimental Psychology student, was more blunt: “It is a stupid decision in my opinion, the word of the year could have been something way cooler. Twerk would have been even worse than selfie though.”
Previous words of the year have included ‘chav’, ‘omnishambles’ and ‘credit crunch’.