‘Selfie’ and ‘Science’ Top Words for 2013

It’s that time of year when news outlets begin to compile the top news stories and dictionaries release their words of the year.

As someone who always does the vocabulary quiz in Reader’s Digest, I’m always curious to see what words make the cut.

One of my colleagues is caught taking a selfie (Photo by Jenn Atkins).

One of my colleagues is caught taking a selfie (Photo by Jenn Atkins).

Oxford Dictionaries recently announced that its Word of the Year for 2013 is selfie, which means “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

According to Oxford research, the use of the word selfie has increased by 17,000 percent since this time last year.

Ironically, the word has not made it into the dictionary yet.

Meanwhile Merriam-Webster announced its 2013 word of the year, which is science.

According to the Merriam-Webster website, This year’s list was compiled by analyzing the top lookups in the online dictionary at Merriam-Webster.com and focusing on the words that showed the greatest increase in lookups this year as compared to last year.”

Most of the words were not new but rather the words “behind the stories in this year’s news.”

Communicators might be intrigued to learn that communications came in at number four on the list. Part of it was due to the ongoing discussion about the NSA wiretapping program and what constitutes private communications, the site noted. The word also was looked up frequently by those who wanted to use it for resumes.

What do you think of the selections?

New Words in 2012

Gangnam StyleOn a recent trip I was introduced to Gangnam Style by PSY. I couldn’t get it out of my head for a few days.

We’ve all had it happen where a song or melody keeps repeating in our mind. Now the word for it, “earworm” has been added to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

According to the dictionary company, when a word reaches a critical mass of citations from a variety of sources, the word is added. This year, about 100 words made the cut, including earworm.

Others that made it include:

Aha Moment: a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension

Bucket List: a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying

Game Changer: a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way

Mash-up: something that is created by combining elements from two or more sources

What word do you think should make the dictionary?

PS Don’t click the video link unless you want an earworm!

Merriam-Webster Pragmatic About 2011 Word

If nothing else, Merriam-Webster was practical and logical when it chose its top word of 2011. The editors named “pragmatic” as the top word.

The word was looked up frequently on Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary.

A new feature on Merriam-Webster’s site allows users to tell the dictionary publisher why they sought that specific word, and the feedback from those who looked up “pragmatic” was that they wanted to reaffirm that the connotation was positive.

“People have a general sense of what the word meant and in fact had even been using it, but then they had a moment when they thought to themselves, `Perhaps I ought to look up that word and make sure it means what I think it means,'” said John Morse, president and publisher of Springfield, Mass.-based Merriam-Webster Morse.

Merriam-Webster has been picking its annual top choice since 2003. Previous winners include: austerity (2010), admonish (2009) and bailout (2008).