And the Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year Is…
And the Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year is… GIF!
GIF is an acronym for “graphics image format” and refers to a type of file used to transmit short, looped video clips on the Internet. It beat out YOLO, super PAC, superstorm and others to become the Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year – meaning it’s a word that has captured the zeitgeist of 2012.
Betabeat reports that Katherine Martin, head of the US dictionaries program, had this to say about GIF’s big win:
“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.”
Along with bestowing the title of Word of the Year upon it, the Oxford American Dictionary also cleared up the hotly debated issue of how to correctly pronounce GIF.
“GIF may be pronounced with either a soft g (as in giant) or a hard g (as in graphic),” said Martin in a statement on the Oxford American Dictionary blog. “The programmers who developed the format preferred a pronunciation with a soft g (in homage to the commercial tagline of the peanut butter brand Jiff, they supposedly quipped, “choosy developers choose GIF”). However, the pronunciation with a hard g is now very widespread and readily understood. Whichever pronunciation you use, it should of course be the same for both the noun and the verb.
WE DID IT! Let’s celebrate with… well, some GIFs, obviously.