The Word of the Year goes to … ‘GIF’

The top word, crowned by Oxford University Press, has been around for 25 years—something that’s irked a few word nerds—and it holds an important lesson.

Ragan Insider Content

As fashion and music style goes, so, too, go words. The Oxford University Press on Monday released its word of the year, and it’s … drumroll, please … GIF—an acronym invented in 1987. After 25 years of languishing among the tech set, GIF, which refers to an image file format, emerged this year as a popular way to document anything from the mundane to the momentous. “GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun,” Katherine Connor Martin, a lexicographer in Oxford University Press’s New York office, said in a blog post. “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.” For people working in corporate communications, it’s yet another sign that 2012 is the year of the image—if creating and/or sharing pictures and graphics online isn’t part of your strategy this year, it had better be next year. Tumblr accounts and blogs shot to prominence on the back of these images, which is an image or videos sequence that repeats. Here’s an example: Here are a couple of practical things you should know about the word GIF:

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.