Each November since 2005 lexicographers (“n., a writer or compiler of a dictionary”) at Oxford English Dictionary announce the word that qualifies as word of the year. After watching word trends to determine what word best illustrates the current zeitgeist, the 2012 winner is GIF. You probably recognize GIF—an acronym standing for graphic interchange format—after all it has been around for over 25 years, but like the word “Google” before it, GIF is morphing from strictly a noun into a verb. From popular tumblr sites such as That Disney GIF to gymnastic GIFs from the Summer Olympics to the recent presidential debates GIFing is the thing to do.
Some of the other contenders for 2012 were:
- YOLO: you only live once
- MOOC: massive open online course
- Eurogeddon: the calamitous collapse of the European economic system
Previous winners include:
- (2011) Squeezed middle: referring to the economic misery of the middle class
- (2010) Refudiate: the melding of refute and repudiate popularized by Sarah Palin
- (2009) Unfriend: another new verb!
The Oxford English Dictionary is available to John Tyler students both in print and online. As a historical record of the English language the OED is currently appealing to readers for evidence of when certain words first appeared. For example, did you see FAQ before1987? What about mani-pedi before 1972? Or DIY before 1955? If so, the Oxford English Dictionary wants to hear from you!
The below image is a GIF created by the New York Public Library Stereogranimator.
GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator