Word Of The Year 2012: 'GIF', According To Oxford American Dictionaries

The Word Of The Year Is...

The Word of the Year 2012, according to the Oxford American Dictionaries, is GIF.

“The GIF, a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, looping animations, turned 25 this year, but like so many other relics of the 80s, it has never been trendier,” noted Katherine Martin, Head of the US Dictionaries Program at Oxford University Press USA, in a press release marking the announcement.

“GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun. The GIF has evolved from a medium for pop-cultural memes into a tool with serious applications including research and journalism, and its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace.”

The word is chosen by a team of lexicographers and consultants to the dictionary team, along with editorial, marketing, and publicity staff at OUP, so read into that what you will. Last year's chosen 'word' was "squeezed middle". The UK word of 2012, according to OUP, is "omnishambles."

By the way, GIF according to its creators, is correctly pronounced "jif" and the three letters stand for Graphics Interchange Format. And although GIFs can be both static and animated, the word most commonly refers to this kind of looped sequence made up of multiple frames, here showcasing a peep into the HuffPost office on an average day:

And this GIF of Obama's post-election celebratory ride:

Lexical nerds can place their own celebratory GIFs in the comments. Meantime, the publishing world already has its own particular must-read GIF site.

Here's the other shortlisted words according to OUP:

1. Eurogeddon: the potential financial collapse of the Eurozone, envisaged as having catastrophic implications for the region’s economic stability [from euro + (arma)geddon]

2. Super PAC: a type of independent political action committee which may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, and individuals but is not permitted to contribute to or coordinate directly with parties or candidates

3. Superstorm: an unusually large and destructive storm

4. Nomophobia: anxiety caused by being without one's mobile phone

[from no and mo(bile) + phobia]

5. Higgs boson: a subatomic particle whose existence is predicted by the theory that unified the weak and electromagnetic interactions

6. YOLO: you only live once; typically used as rationale or endorsement for impulsive or irresponsible behavior

7. MOOC: massive open online course; a university course offered free of charge via the internet

What's your word of the year?

Before You Go

The 25th Birthday Of The Animated GIF

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