‘Gif’ is Oxford’s Word of the Year in the U.S.
“GIF” is Oxford’s “Word of the Year” for 2012, at least in the United States.
So twenty years after Tim Berners-Lee and his CERN colleagues uploaded the very first .gif file to the World Wide Web, the abbreviation of “graphics interchange format” can finally take its place alongside “tweet,” “blog,” and “google” as Internet Age terms that have been singled out in such year-end linguistic celebrations by various word-watching bodies.
Oxford University Press named “omnishambles” as its Word of the Year in the United Kingdom. That term, defined as “a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations,” was playfully changed to “Romneyshambles” when U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney created a minor diplomatic incident during a trip to the U.K. in which he questioned the host country’s preparations for the London Olympics.
On the U.S. side of the contest, “GIF” beat out “superstorm,” a term only recently gaining prominence in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and “YOLO,” a shortened version of “You only live once.”
Gifs themselves have been around for as long as there’s been a Web, but have lately gained new popularity on blogs, messageboards, and other sites as tools for creating quick-and-easy animations lasting just a tick of a moment to several seconds.
Last year’s selection by Oxford University Press was “squeezed middle,” which was the Word of the Year in both the U.K. and U.S.
Other recent tech-centric “Word of the Year” selections from various bodies include “tweet,” the 2009 winner chosen by the American Dialect Society, “app,” the society’s top choice in 2010; “blog,” Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2004, and “w00t,” the choice for 2007; “twitter” and “2.0,” both “Top Words of the Year” selections for 2009 from the Global Language Monitor, and “google,” “dot.com,” “Y2K,” “twitter,” “blog,” and “texting,” all listed by the Global Language Monitor in its list of Top Words of the Decade for 2000 to 2009.
By Damon Poeter, PCMag