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Leslie Walker

"To Gif": Word of the Year

By November 18, 2012

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Animated GIFs have turned into one of the hottest meme-makers of 2012, a popularity acknowledged this week by the Oxford American Dictionary. The editors of Oxford Dictionaries USA proclaimed the phrase "to GIF" as "Word of the Year" for 2012.

Animated GIFs are special files containing multiple images that appear in a sequence and create the impression of movement, like an oh-so-tiny mini-movie.

In a blog post, Katherine Martin, one of the dictionary's lexicographers said that "to GIF" transcended the noun form, GIF, to become a popular verb. The verb, she wrote, is defined by the dictionary to mean "to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event). . ."

Martin noted that animated GIFs grew especially popular this year as a means of poking fun and sharing highlights of the Olympics and U.S. presidential elections, two major global news stories. GIF animation also helped fuel viral distribution of a global hit song, the Korean dance title "Gangnam Style," as it inspired many reaction GIFs involving horse-riding dance animations.

More about the GIF tiny-movie meme:

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