GIF (as a verb) is dictionary's word of the year

Oxford Dictionaries | Hindustan Times

GIF, used as a verb, is the Oxford American Dictionaries' word of the year. The dictionary company announced the pick with an animated GIF.

The word of the year is "chosen annually as a word that has attracted interest and that embodies in some way the ethos of the year."

GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun. 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.

I asked (hopefully not one-off) Poynter contributor and GIF maven Ann Friedman her reaction: "I was all like

," she writes in an email.

Especially because it made the cut as a verb. How very Web 3.0 of them! Maybe now we'll come to a consensus on capitalization and pronunciation.

The word may be pronounced with either a hard or soft "G," Oxford Dictionaries' Katherine Martin writes.

Boston Globe language columnist Ben Zimmer has been compiling his own list of words of the year. In an Internet communication, he tells Poynter the leading contenders are "YOLO" and "fiscal cliff," plus "mansplaining, dox(x)ing, double down, Frankenstorm, Super PAC," he writes, promising more words to come.

Some of those words, plus "MOOC," "Eurogeddon" and "nomophobia" (the fear of being without your cell phone) were also Oxford contenders, Martin writes.

In the U.K., "omnishambles" is the Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year. It means "a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations," according to the Hindustan Times. Using just these two word choices as an illustration, one could explain all major differences between American and British cultures.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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