Oxford American Dictionaries has officially crowned “GIF” as its 2012 Word of the Year. To win this honor, GIF beat out Eurogeddon, Super PAC, superstorm, nomophobia (the fear of being away from your mobile phone), Higgs boson and MOOC, as well as YOLO—for which we say, thank goodness.
“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 US Dictionaries Program at Oxford University Press USA. We agree. GIFs are huge, and they’re not just for expressing your LOLs or WTFs. GIFs can be a great communication tool—take, for example, these awesome GIFs created to market a new gluten-free beer.
Oxford helpfully compiled a timeline of the GIF’s accomplishments over the past year that helped vault the term to Word of the Year status:
January: The New York Public Library launched stereogranimator, a tool that allows library patrons to create GIFs out of materials in the library’s collection.
March: Tumblr, the microblogging platform and GIF paradise, hit 20 billion blog posts.
July: The Internet celebrated the anniversary of the first GIF posted on the World Wide Web.
October: Media outlets started “live-GIFing” the presidential debates.
With so much going on for the GIF, is there any limit to what it can accomplish? Mental Floss strikes a note of caution, reminding us that some of the past Word of the Year candidates failed to realize their potential. (Not sure what they’re talking about—I exclusively use “Heaven-o” to answer the phone). But now isn’t the time for prudence: we need to embrace the spirit of the GIF and celebrate in glorious motion! Here’s some GIFs we can’t get enough of.
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