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'Selfie' Beats Out 'Twerk' as Oxford's Word of the Year

Forget the Snowden leaks, the birth of Prince George, and the Syria chemical weapons deal -- 2013 shall be remembered as the year of the first Papal selfie. Following in the pioneering footsteps of Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, and even Michelle Obama, Pope Francis went this year where no pope has gone before: in front of an iPhone held aloft by a smiling teenager.

So it's probably not surprising that selfie is the 2013 Oxford Dictionaries word of the year. Usage of the term increased by 17,000 percent since last year, according to Oxford Dictionaries editors, driven by both social and mainstream media use. Selfie beat out bitcoin, binge-watch, and even twerk for the distinction.

Selfie was added to OxfordDictionaries.com in August and was defined as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website." But afficionados of the Oxford English Dictionary and purists of the English language need not panic: The word hasn't yet been added to the OED (though it is being considered).

Oxford Dictionaries editors traced the first known use of the word selfie  to an Australian online forum in 2002. It started appearing on Flickr in 2004 but didn't really hit the mainstream until 2012 when celebrities like Rihanna and Justin Bieber turned selfie into a household term. It wasn't much later that Fox News host Geraldo Rivera nearly ruined the medium with this semi-nude gem from July:

"70 is the new 50," Rivera was kind enough to inform his Twitter followers.

But, hey, selfies: They're so hot right now. 

Lukas Coch - Pool/Getty Images

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