NEW YORK - Another computer-related term has been chosen as the "American Word of the Year" for 2012 by Oxford American Dictionaries.
Oxford announced Monday that it chose the verb, GIF, as its winner for 2012.
According to Oxford Dictionaries Online, GIF is defined as:
GIF, verb: to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event).
"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," said Katherine Martin, head of the U.S. Dictionaries Program at Oxford University Press.
"GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun," Martin added. "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."
Past Words of the Year include "podcast" in 2005, and "unfriend" in 2009.
GIF beat out a number of other contenders for Word of the Year this year. A shortlist of other candidates under consideration included:
* Eurogeddon: the potential financial collapse of the Eurozone, envisaged as having catastrophic implications for the region's economic stability [from euro + (arma)geddon]
* Super PAC: a type of independent political action committee which may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, and individuals but is not permitted to contribute to or coordinate directly with parties or candidates
* Superstorm: an unusually large and destructive storm
* Nomophobia: anxiety caused by being without one's mobile phone [from no and mo(bile) + phobia]
* Higgs boson: a subatomic particle whose existence is predicted by the theory that unified the weak and electromagnetic interactions
* YOLO: you only live once; typically used as rationale or endorsement for impulsive or irresponsible behavior
* MOOC: massive open online course; a university course offered free of charge via the internet
Lexicographers at Oxford University Press track how the vocabulary of the English language is changing from year to year. Every year, a Word of the Year is debated and chosen to "reflect the ethos of the year and its lasting potential as a word of cultural significance."
Oxford Dictionaries choose a different Word of the Year for the United Kingdom. Each nation's vocabulary develops in different ways, according to what is happening both culturally and in the news, and as such the Words of the Year are usually different, Oxford officials said.
The 2012 U.K. winner is "omnishambles," which means a wide-ranging series of gaffes, usually in the government sector.