The Oxford American Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary have selected their respective word of the year.
Let’s start with US English.
The winner is GIF (Graphics Interchange Format). Katherine Martin, head of the U.S. dictionaries program at Oxford explains that “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.”
GIF was originally released by CompuServe in 1987 and has become popular in recent years for its ability to have users make humorous commentary on topics ranging from sports to political elections.
Two other words battled GIF for the top spot: YOLO which stands for “You only live once” and “Superstorm” after the major storm that affected the Eastern U.S. during the first week of November 2012.
Not surprisingly, UK English has a different word of the year. The winner is “omnishambles“, which is defined as “a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.”
A runner up was the word “Pleb“, taken from the Roman word “plebs“. It is used as a derogative term to describe “a member of the ordinary people or working classes.”
Funny enough being the word of the year does not guarantee that those words will actually be included in future editions of the Oxford English Dictionary!
A word that took the top spot is previous years is “egosurfer” to describe a person who keeps googling him/herself.
No matter if these words will be included in official dictionaries; they speak volumes about our pop culture!
Which word would you choose to be the word of the year? My favorite is “Fiscal Cliff”!