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Oxford American Dictionary's word of the year: 'GIF'

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(Read caption) The K-pop hit 'Gangnam Style,' and its popularity based on GIFs, was one of the reasons the Oxford American Dictionary chose the word 'GIF' as its term of the year.

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In yet another example of the “Internet’s ongoing takeover of the English language,” Oxford American Dictionary has announced that 2012’s word of the year is ‘GIF.’


If you, like us, spend more time with your nose in a book than in tech circles, here’s a primer: GIF, which is actually an acronym that stands for “graphic interchange format,” is a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, jerky, looping animations. The word, traditionally used as a noun, is a longstanding part of Internet meme culture and has been in use for 25 years. But, Oxford American Dictionary claims, this is the first year it “broke free of the bounds of being a mere noun, transcending into the territory of verbs, where GIF has come to mean ‘to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event),’” according to The Week.

“The GIF, a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, looping animations, turned 25 this year, but like so many other relics of the 80s, it has never been trendier,” Katherine Martin, Head of the US Dictionaries Program at Oxford University Press USA, said in a press release marking the announcement.

“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.”


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