Last year Oxford University Press split its word of the year honors between the US and the UK, but for 2013 there’s one word to rule them all — and it is “selfie.” The term beat out contenders like twerk, bitcoin, and binge-watch, due largely to its remarkable uptick in usage. According to research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors, the use of selfie has increased an incredible 17,000 percent since the same time last year.
While the term has certainly come into the mainstream over the past 12 months, its origins actually go much further back. The Oxford University Press discovered the term used in an Australian forum posting in 2002, where it was used to describe a photo the poster took of themselves after a drunken fall; the hashtag #selfie surfaced on Flickr two years later. Despite earning the year’s top honors, however, selfie is oddly not included in the Oxford English Dictionary itself. It is part of the online Oxford Dictionaries website, however, and is being considered for future inclusion in the OED as well.
This isn’t the first time that technology’s heavy influence on popular culture has resulted in a word of the year selection. In 2005 the US word of the year was “podcast,” while last last year’s US honors went to none other than the venerable GIF.