Selfie Named Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When was the last time you took a selfie?  An hour ago?  A week ago? 

If you’re asking “what’s a selfie,” maybe the answer is never.

For the uninitiated, "selfie" is a term for a self-portrait, usually snapped on a digital camera or smartphone held by an outstretched arm. It's also a term that been named by Oxford Dictionaries as the 2013 Word of the Year.

Cringing? Hang on. Though selfies have gotten a bad rap as the crowning achievement of a narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-obsessed youth culture, writer Casey Cep says young people today didn't actually invent the selfie.

In a piece entitled “In Praise of the Selfie,” she argues that today’s cropped, filtered, and instantly shared selfies in fact stem from a long, rich tradition of self-portraiture. Before we dismiss the selfie, she argues, we should consider all that it has to offer.

In honor of the word of the year, The Takeaway staff has taken some selfies. Check out our album below and send us your own selfie by visiting us on Facebook or Twitter.



Casey Cep

Hosted by:

Anna Sale

Produced by:

Mythili Rao


T.J. Raphael

Comments [15]

Lawrence Howard from NYC

First time I've ever heard the word--and I hope the last. By the way, speaking of words--or titles--I don't understand" The Takeaway" as a show title. Most shows on WNYC are simply the names of the hosts: e.g.. The brian lehrer Show; Leonard Lopate Show; Jonathan Schwartz. Or something as clear as "Car Talk" or "Radio Lab". . . but i don't understand 'The Takeaway."

Nov. 20 2013 05:13 PM
mike White from Brooklyn

When considering the embarrassment of the celebrities and politicians who've so generously blessed us with their selfies over the past 12 months, my word of the year: "schadenfreude."

Nov. 20 2013 02:51 PM
Carol F from Manhattan, Upper east side

I was going to say I would have preferred a word more with higher impact on, and stronger representation of, the expressive development of our language...but then again, maybe I am wrong.....and "selfie" is it. a sorry comment on the direction of our culture

Nov. 20 2013 10:49 AM
Dave K from Manhattan

Nitey nite Oxford.

Nov. 20 2013 08:30 AM
Behistun from Woodlawn

At least it wasn't twerk...

Nov. 20 2013 07:40 AM
stan chaz from Brooklyn: center of the known universe

Were Rembrandt's or Van Gogh's self-portraits "selfies"?

Nov. 20 2013 01:42 AM
art525 from Park Slope

The whole "selfie" thing makes me cringe. You know what else makes me ringe? The phrase that Mz Sale used- "I'm all about...".

Nov. 19 2013 03:43 PM
NJ member from Bergen County

Too DUMB! Dopey word, too. Even dumber than Facebook. Who cares? Don't our friends already know who we are? Who cares what you looked like when you got up? The whole concept seems pre-adolescent.

Nov. 19 2013 03:33 PM
Louis Zoellar Bickett from Lexington, KY, USA

It is interesting to hear and read all the comments about Selfie activity being a right of the self-absorbed youth. I'm a 63 year conceptual artist that has for the last three months been producing a work entitled "10,000 SELFIES". I'm nearly to 7,000. I've calculated it would take about 5-6 years to do a million. I may go for it. At nearly 7,000 it is close to an obsession. Clothes change. Expression changes. Location changes. Seasons change. They are all the same, yet different. One of the fastest growing mediums of art and photography is the cell phone image. I've written several essays on the genre. Check it out on Aeqai. Louis Zoellar Bickett

Nov. 19 2013 03:30 PM

This vacuous theorizing is a waste of everybody's time. Self empowering for women indeed! That implies a lot of thought goes into each of the countless thousands of "self portraits" that flood social media. Gimme a break! Mindless, not thoughtful, comes to mind. Guess I won't be hanging on Ms. Cep's every word in future. Not that I was....

Nov. 19 2013 03:15 PM
Thomas from Charlotte, NC

90% of "selfies" today are taken in the bathroom in front of the mirror (or on the toilet) and are cringeworthy, desperate attempts at getting attention. Don't get me started on the "duck face" that usually accompanies these photos.

Nov. 19 2013 02:36 PM
Jayne from Michigan

I used to have a problem with selfies but having just completed an online campaign for a cause asking for "selfless selfies" I recognize the power of self portraiture to not only show the world how you see yourself, but also what's important to you. For the rest of time, people will se what I stand for, see how I prefer to be seen, and see that I think I'm a happy person.

Nov. 19 2013 12:41 PM
Kristine from Whidbey Island, Washingtin

It was so annoying to be introduced to this "new word", with no spelling of it offered at all! I'm going, is it Cellfi? selphi? or even sel-p? (short for self portrait) The next time you tell us about a new word, please spell it!


Nov. 19 2013 11:28 AM
Erin from Brooklyn

The comparisons of Frida Kahlo's art of self portraiture to the millennial, often drunk, vapid, "selfie" is making my brain hurt.

Nov. 19 2013 09:31 AM

god, society is depressing.

Nov. 19 2013 09:12 AM

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