- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Drumroll, please. It was a tough matchup, with twerk and showrooming coming on strong, but Oxford Dictionaries’ editors finally settled on the Word of 2013: Selfie.

They said the word’s rapidly become a social media tag used by few to a mainstream term used by many, The Daily Mail reported. It describes the act of taking one’s own photograph, typically from a cell phone.

And perhaps the deciding factor — the moment where the word went viral and mainstream — was when Pope Francis posed with teenagers at the Vatican and snapped a photograph. The picture made a sensation on social media and was billed as the first “Papal selfie,” The Daily Mail reported.

Oxford wordsmiths recalled their earliest memory of the term’s usage: It was in 2002, in an online post on an Australian-based Web forum. The post, The Daily Mail reported: “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.”

From there, the word took on celebrity status, leading to several offshoots — like helfie, a picture of someone’s hair, and welfie, a picture of someone exercising, The Daily Mail reported. Another offshoot: A drelfie, a drunken selfie.

“Using the Oxford Dictionaries’ language research program, 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,” said Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, in The Daily Mail. “Social media sites helped to popularize 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.”

How popular has the word become?

Oxford Dictionaries’ people say it’s used 17,000 percent more now than a year ago, The Daily Mail reported.

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