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

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Oxford included a list of “Highlights of the year in GIFing,” including its contributions to the viral ubiquity of Gangnam Style, the pop-hit Korean music video; as a tool in covering Olympic events; and its use in live-GIFing the presidential debates.

Amazingly, GIF beat out other contenders such as Eurogeddon, the potential financial collapse of the European Union countries that have adopted the euro; nomophobia, anxiety caused by being without one’s mobile phone (from no + mo(bile) + phobia); super PAC, a type of independent political action committee which may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, and individuals; superstorm, an unusually large and destructive storm, as in “superstorm Sandy”; and YOLO, an acronym for "you only live once," typically used as a rationale for impulsive behavior.

GIF joins other recent popular tech-oriented words like ‘podcast,’ ‘tweet,’ ‘blog,’ and ‘google.’

As odd as we find this year’s selection, we can’t argue that it – and its fellow contenders – provides a fascinating window into the zeitgeist of 2012.

And now, back to our favorite lexicographer, Samuel Johnson.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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