Oxford American Dictionaries announced that the Word of the Year for 2012 is the verb form of GIF, short for Graphics Interchange Format and pronounced as “Jif” at its inception (but now with either a hard or soft G in common usage). GIF now joins previous Words of the Year like podcast and unfriend and beat out other new dictionary entries this year like YOLO, Superstorm, and Higgs Boson for the distinction.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the GIF’s creation at Compuserve. Additionally, the first photo uploaded to the World Wide Web was a non-animated GIF of the band “Les Horribles Cernettes,” a picture which turned 20 years old in July. Another milestone was cited by the Oxford University Press as a reason for choosing GIF: the twenty billionth blog post on Tumblr was posted last March. Many of those posts incorporate GIFs, of course.
Katherine Martin, Head of the US Dictionaries Program at Oxford University Press USA, said in the press release:
GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun. 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. [Oxford via WIRED]
Speaking of serious applications including research and journalism, we’ve collected 30 jubilant GIFs like the one above to celebrate our favorite file format’s hard-fought status as Word of the Year. In your face, YOLO.