'Selfie' chosen as word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries

Oxford Dictionaries has awarded "selfie" the title of word of 2013. It is used to describe a self-portrait taken on a camera or smartphone, sometimes pointed at a mirror, others from the front-facing cam. And editors at the dictionary compiling company say that it has gone from being a niche social media tag to a mainstream word.

Its use in the English language has increased by 17,000 per cent in the past year, it's claimed. Oxford Dictionaries conducts its research using a program that collects around 150 million words currently in use around the internet. It then shows which have had dramatic rises in popularity.

A word doesn't have to have been coined in the year to be eligible for the ultimate honour, but it will have increased in usage. Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, explained: "Social media sites helped to popularise the term, with the hashtag #selfie appearing on the photo-sharing website Flickr as early as 2004, but usage wasn't widespread until around 2012, when selfie was being used commonly in mainstream media sources."

Other words shortlisted include "binge-watch", which describes TV viewing in few sittings, such as watching a season of Breaking Bad in a weekend. Another is "schmeat", a synthetically produced meat formed from biological tissues. And then there was "twerk", which Miley Cyrus fans will know all about.

"Selfie" is being considered for inclusion in the paper edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. It has been part of Oxford Dictionaries Online since August.