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Australia gave the world the word 'selfie'

Australia gave the world the word 'selfie'

Everyone was using the word, but did not know where it came from until the Oxford Dictionaries began to do research and traced it back to an Australian website.

New Delhi: The word for virtual self-love that incites narcissistic behavior, the ubiquitous 'selfie,' has roots in Australia.

Mark Gwynn, editor and researcher at the Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) at the Australian National University, said that everyone, including vocabulary experts, became familiar with the word 'selfie' a few years back but its Australian roots weren't immediately apparent.

While everyone was using the term, no one seemed to know that it was Australian, until the Oxford Dictionaries began to do research into Internet terminology and traced it back to an Australian website.

A Mashable report notes that the word was first used on a 2002 ABC forum posting of a user, 'Hopey,' who posted a close-up of his busted lip, saying: "Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps ... I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie." The world followed suit and in 2013, Oxford Dictionaries named it word of the year.

Even as the most examples of the word's use were in an Australian's post, Gwynn has warned that this doesn't necessarily mean it is an Australian term.

He suggests that the word caught on because there was a void in the lexicon. Since there was a gap in language for describing people taking photos of themselves, a sort of informal word filled that gap.

According to Gwynn's article on the BBC , other Aussie words with the '-ie' suffix have gained global usage, including 'budgie' (budgerigar), 'greenie' (a environmentalist), 'mozzie' (mosquito) and 'surfie' (surfer).

first published:April 30, 2015, 15:20 IST