It’s official: Self-portraits are passé, the Selfie’s here to stay!


posted Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 1:59 PM EST

The humble self-portrait has just been elevated to iconic status. The Oxford University Press -- creator of the famous Oxford dictionary series -- has conveyed a rare honor on social media's favorite photo, selecting "Selfie" as its word of the year for 2013. Selfie made the cut over pop culture rivals such as "binge-watch", "bitcoin", and "twerk" thanks to a  staggering 17,000% increase in usage in just twelve months.

Oxford Dictionaries editorial director Judy Pearsall commented: "Using the Oxford Dictionaries language research programme, which collects around 150 million words of current English in use each month, we can see a phenomenal upward trend in the use of selfie in 2013, and this helped to cement its selection as Word of the Year."

Selfie entered the Oxford Dictionaries Online last August. It hasn't appeared in print in the Oxford English Dictionary as yet, but with popularity soaring, it's only a matter of time.

According to OED research, the term was first coined in an Australian forum posting back in 2002, and by 2004 had spread to photo sharing service Flickr. It wasn't until this year that selfies hit the mainstream, relegating the term "self portrait" uncool in the process. Just last August, selfie gained its own entry in Oxford Dictionaries Online, and according to OUP, a number of spin-off terms have also appeared. These include helfie (a selfie of one’s hair), belfie (a selfie depicting one’s posterior), and welfie (a selfie shot while working out), among others. (Apparently the unselfie -- a phenomenon for good on which we just reported the other day -- hasn't yet hit OUP's radar.)

The increase in usage of selfie just this year is astounding.

Do you agree with Oxford Dictionaries that the selfie's legit, and here to stay? Or is it a fad whose days you're eagerly counting down? Discuss in the comments below!

Just want to look at some photos? How about these cop selfies we reported on last July, or a tutorial on how to shoot a better selfie, courtesy of fashion photographer Nigel Barker?

(Book thumbnail image courtesy of Horia Varlan / Flickr. Oxford English Dictionaries image courtesy of mrpolyonymous / Flickr. Both images used under a Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 license.)