Word of the Year

19 Nov

According to the Oxford American Dictionaries, GIF (graphic interchange format) is the Word of the Year for 2012. Pronounced JIF (I have no idea why) the definition is “a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, jerky, looping animations.” See the complete article for some GIF examples. Very cute. I see them online all the time now.

Originating in the 80’s, the word has experienced a rebirth through use on the Internet. Its rising popularity earned the Word of the Year title from a team of lexicographers and consultants to the dictionary team, along with editorial, marketing, and publicity staff on the Oxford University Press. It doesn’t mean it will automatically be put in any dictionary.

Another phrase I’m seeing everywhere is Internet Meme. The term “Internet meme” refers to a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based email, blogs, forums, Imageboards, social networking sites, instant messaging and video streaming sites such as YouTube (from Wikipedia).


In short, enough people like an image, video, or phrase that they send it to others via the Internet or social media. I found a site that lists the “100 Greatest” memes. Better learn what a photobomb is as well. That’s when an object is inserted into another photo, making it “funny” to enough people that they pass it on. Here is Crasher Squirrel.

And there I go, propagating the meme!

So, there’s my update on the further evolution {or disintegration :-)} of the English language. At the least, it’s a fascinating insight in how technology and the Internet impact us on a daily basis.


Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Popular Culture


Tags: , , ,

21 responses to “Word of the Year

  1. Judith Keim

    November 19, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    Very interesting, Janis! I worry about the demise of the English language. In a comic strip a young kid failed a spelling test because he spelled all the words like we text them. Are correct words and language gone forever? But I agree, we’d better keep up on the techno part of communicating today!

    • Janis

      November 19, 2012 at 8:47 AM

      I worry, too. FREX: In the “olden” days, there was no such word as “snuck.” The proper terms were sneak, sneak, and sneaked. Enough people used it incorrectly long enough and a few years back, “snuck” was legalized by adding it to the dictionary. I actually mourned.

  2. Meredith Allen Conner

    November 19, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    Always so fun and interesting to read your blog Janis! A GIF and an Internet meme – the things I learn from you 🙂 I still remember the first commercial for email: a very attractive woman wrote down a stream of letters and numbers for the guy to get in touch with her. That was ages and eons ago back in the 80s. I remember thinking how odd. I’m sure I also thought it would never catch on 🙂

    • Janis

      November 19, 2012 at 8:48 AM

      I remember that one! It’s so hard to keep up. I’d seen the “looping” mini-vids but didn’t know they had a name.

  3. stephanieberget

    November 19, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    Thanks for this. I have a terrible time keeping up with current jargon. These three new words will help me know what friends are talking about. My biggest pet peeve in language is adding letters to words for no other reason than to make them sound more important, re. function vs. functionality.

  4. Janis

    November 19, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    I hate those as well. News media seems to be the biggest culprit. They make up words frequently.

  5. ValRoberts

    November 19, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    I work in an office full of internet programmers, and I handle a lot of the graphics for the wholesale website we run. Not a single person in my office pronounces “gif” with a soft g. Maybe it’s a regional thing.

    All the photobombs I’ve seen have the “bomber” actually in the image without being Photoshopped, like this one:

    Oh well, live and learn.

    • Janis

      November 19, 2012 at 10:48 AM

      I’m with you. GIF is utterly supposed to be hard g.

  6. Jennifer

    November 19, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Very interesting. My daughters will probably pick up on this lingo before I do. They are young but even my 2 year old knows how to knock out a few pigs with an angry bird 🙂 The teacher in me feels the need to point out that when “g” is followed by “e”, “i”, or “y”, it usually makes the soft sound. However, I do realize that this is an acronym so maybe the rules don’t apply.

  7. Janis

    November 19, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    That’s something I learned today. Thanks, Jennifer.

  8. Peggy Staggs

    November 19, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    It’s hard keeping up with new technology and its vocabulary. And for some of us who are still trying to figure out Facebook it’s exceptionally difficult.

  9. Janis

    November 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    But, chances are if you never learn most of them, they will become obsolete in six months or less anyway, so you don’t have to bother.

  10. marsharwest

    November 19, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    LOL Janis. Love your last comment to Peggy. Gives me hope.
    I agree with the soft g pronunciation. What can a bunch of computer nerds know about how something is pronounced. They don’t talk they just email each other. LOL Apologies, Val. I’m sure this isn’t you.
    Having said all that, we have to attempt to keep up. Otherwise, in 5 to 10 years we won’t be able to communicate with our family, friends, or hopefully future readers.
    Thanks, Janis for staying on top of all the word stuff. Words are powerful. Or why would we be writers?

  11. Janis

    November 19, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    It’s the ultimate test of time. Are you keeping up or falling behind. The answer varies, doesn’t it?

  12. maryvine

    November 19, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Thanks for the education-again!

    • Janis

      November 20, 2012 at 9:17 AM

      You’re welcome. I love doing language research.

  13. Lynn Mapp

    November 19, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    I agree with Mary, only I’m going to call it reeducation.

  14. Janis

    November 20, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    LOL. Any time.

  15. Clarissa Southwick

    November 26, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    Janis, Thanks for keeping us up to date on all the lingo. While I have used the meme, I tend to ignore most computer jargon. I figure it’s likely to be obsolete before I figure it out 🙂


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