GIF stands for “graphic interchange format” and has been around since the 1980s. But this year, in the opinion of the folks at Oxford, GIF has taken on new life and meaning as the Internet switched it from a noun to a verb.
People around the world are GIFing events and phrases and posting them online. They GIF when they use pop culture and catch-phrases and combine them with images to create an in-joke that can be shared online.
The “Word of the Year” is an annual award given to the word that lexicographers at the publishing house decide had the largest impact on the English language over the past year. GIF beat out other popular words like “YOLO” (you only live once), “Superstorm” and “Higgs Boson” to take this year’s prize. Also in the running — reflecting this year’s political season — were “Super PAC” and “Self-deportation.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, “omnishambles” — a word used to define the current state of British media and politics — won the award.