‘Selfie’ is Word of the Year

December 7, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. selfie [SEL-fee] (n.) – one’s picture taken by himself/herself, usually with a smartphone and uploaded through social networking sites
Example: Teenagers nowadays usually post selfies in their online profiles.

2. inventiveness [in-VEN-tiv-nes] (n.) – the ability to come up with new and creative things
Example: People’s inventiveness allows them to create new and catchy words.

3. coin [koin] (v.) – to make or invent; usually associated with words
Example: The term ‘selfie’ was coined from the word ‘self.’ 

4. track [trak] (v.) – to follow or keep a record of something
Example: The Oxford Dictionary tracks the words that people frequently use in order to choose the word of the year.  

5. hashtag [HASH-tag] (n.) – a word or phrase with a hash sign (#) before it
Example: The hashtag #YolandaPH was trending in social networking sites last week.


Read the text below.
The Oxford Dictionaries has recently chosen "selfie" as 2013’s word of the year.

The frequency of using the word "selfie" has increased by 17,000% in the past year. It has beaten other short-listed words like "twerk," which is a dance move by pop star Miley Cyrus, and "binge-watch," which means watching too much TV.

The Oxford Dictionaries began the word of the year award to recognize the inventiveness of English speakers in coping with the various changes in our society. To qualify for this award, the word does not have to be coined in the past 12 months. However, it should have gained prominence during this period.

The dictionary website uses a software program that collects around 150 million English words currently used in the internet every month. This software tracks where and how frequent these words are used.

The word "selfie" started in 2002 when a man posted pictures of his facial injuries that he got when he tripped. He explained the lack of right focus in the photo by telling the public that he was not drunk, but because it was a selfie.

Selfie has now gained popularity with the help of social media. It was used as a hashtag as early as 2004 in the photo sharing site Flickr, but it only gained widespread use starting the year 2012. 

The word was already added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online last August but is yet to be included in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that ‘selfie’ deserves to be the word of the year? Why or why not?
·         What do you think is the importance of having a word of the year? Please explain briefly.

Discussion B

·         Why do you think people nowadays are fond of taking selfies or pictures of themselves?
·         What are the disadvantages of posting your photos online? Please explain briefly.


December 7, 2013