Without further ado….drum roll please….
The US word of the year 2012 is….GIF. GIF the verb, not the noun. The noun already appears in the OED.
I know, I know: I heard a big thud too. Frankly, I’m scratching my head over this year’s selection. GIF, of all words! (FYI: GIF the noun is an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, a type of file for computer images. Used as a verb, GIF means to create a GIF file.)
Here’s my problem with GIF: This past year I’ve hardly heard the word used at all! I had no idea I was so far out of the cultural loop….In fact, especially when it comes to computer lingo, I thought I was rather much in the thick of things. Apparently not. I’m curious to see if my eyes and ears will start finding the word everywhere now that my brain has installed a GIF antenna. In explaining the OUP’s decision, Katherine Martin, head of US Dictionaries Program at OUP-USA, said, “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.”
So, there you have it. GIF.
I’m sure my Anglophile friends will soon succumb to vapors and need smelling salts if I don’t hurriedly reveal the word that the OUP chose for the UK....so here ‘tis: omnishambles.
Omnishambles, a word gleaned from the British TV comedy show The Thick of It, means “a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.” (Now, in my opinion, that’s a word! Very, very useful, indeed.)
All in all, OUP holds a decent batting average with its Word of the Year choices. Many have had staying power. For instance, in 2005, they chose podcast. Now podcast is ubiquitous. Other chosen words: 2006, carbon-neutral; 2007, locavore; 2008, hypermiling; 2009, unfriend; 2010, refudiate; and 2011, squeezed middle.
And what words contented with GIF in the US this year?
- Eurogeddon (the horrors of a Eurozone collapse)
- Super PAC (a type of independent political action committee)
- Superstorm (a type of “perfect storm” that is unusually large and destructive)
- Nomophobia (distress caused from not having one’s cell phone nearby / “no” + mo(bile) + phobia…Get it?)
- Higgs boson (a type of subatomic particle)
- YOLO (You Only Live Once / Word is often used on social media)
- MOOC (Massive Open Online Course / A free, university course offered on the Internet)
We all know that using a word in a sentence helps us remember the meaning of the word, so here goes…
"Despite the fact I’ve hardly heard the word GIF this year, I do see GIF images on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet, so I’m not ready to declare OUP’s decision an omnishambles."
Oh, and I found a GIF-maker for you, dear readers! To view the MakeAGif link, click HERE
Go to: BRITISH BOOKS
Go to: BRITISH NEWSPAPERS
Go to: BRITISH RADIO
Go to: VISIT BRITAIN
Go to: HOMEPAGE
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