(NECN: Jack Thurston, Burlington, Vt.) - Researchers at the Oxford Dictionaries picked "selfie" as their top word of 2013, owing to the term's widespread increase in usage this year.
In an announcement posted on the Oxford Dictionaries website, the team said selecting the term for cell phone self-portraits was unanimous. The word's popularity on social media and its inclusion in mainstream media also helped propel it to the top of the word heap, Oxford Dictionaries said.
In Burlington, Vt., standup comic Autumn Spencer takes selfies regularly, posting them to her several social media accounts. All together, they form something of a digital journal for Spencer about her family and her travels. Asked why she doesn't have someone else take photos of her in the locations she visits instead of having to stretch out her arm to take cell phone photos of herself, Spencer chuckled, "Nobody wants to be bothered!"
Oxford's researchers said the term has been around a while, perhaps for more than a decade. "It's become a really mainstream word in the last year, appearing in all sorts of mainstream newspapers and media sources, usually referencing celebrities taking selfies of themselves," noted Richard Holden, the online editor for Oxford Dictionaries, in a video posted on the research tool's website.
Elaine Young, a business professor who teaches courses on digital marketing at Champlain College in Burlington, told New England Cable News that since social media sites are where so many people communicate, the language of those sites is sure to bleed into the rest of our conversations. "The more people create new things, the more we're going to have new words," Young said. "It's kind of nice to see a dictionary that's responsive to all the new things that people come up with. Whether those things will be with us five years from now is something completely different."
"The selfie's not going anywhere," predicted Autumn Spencer.
Spencer's frequent selfie-taking will ensure Oxford's word of the year stays out there for a long time to come, but she promises to not go overboard with the oftentimes ego-stroking trend. "I think if you're like, missing dinner with your family because you're busy taking selfies, you should visit your selfie habit," Spencer told NECN, laughing.
Selfie beat out several other hot words from 2013 to claim the title, Oxford Dictionaries said. “Twerk,” that racy dance move made infamous by Miley Cyrus, was also up for consideration. Other leading terms included “binge-watch,” a term for viewing a whole bunch of TV episodes from one show’s season in just a day, and “showrooming,” which is when consumers shop for a product in a brick-and-mortar store but actually purchase it online.