First An OMA, Now This: “GIF” Is Oxford Dictionaries USA’s Word of the Year

Posted November 13

Born in 1987, GIFs had the potential to be become laughable relics of another age (much like slap bracelets and legwarmers), but thanks to sites and services like Tumblr and Twitter, they’ve become extremely popular sharables – often used to memorize and satirize pop culture moments. Now, 25 years after the GIF’s inception, it seems like the art form is getting its due — in the form of an official nod from Oxford American Dictionaries, who dubbed the verb form of the word the 2012 Word of the Year.

Granted, “GIF” had its fair share of honor tossed its way this year when it won the O Music Award for “Best Vintage Revival,” but the official treatment from Oxford isn’t too shabby either.

The new definition is as follows:

GIF, verb
to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event)

It’s also important to note that Oxford American Dictionaries is highlighting the verb form of “GIF,” not the already accepted noun form. “GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun,” says Katherine Martin, Head of the US Dictionaries Program at Oxford University Press USA in a statement. “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.”

“GIF” beat out a pretty impressive list of contenders for the honor, including “YOLO,” to which we say:

Second GIF via Hopscotch Mayhem