From a shortlist of social media, internet, and pop culture references, including snapchat, FOMO and twerk, the Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC), based at ANU, has selected bitcoin as the 2013 Word of the Year.
Bitcoins. Image via antanacoins on Flickr
Bitcoin is a type of digital crypto-currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank.
Centre Director Amanda Laugesen said the ANDC looks for a word that has come to prominence in the Australian social and cultural landscape over the past year.
“We selected bitcoin as our Word of the Year because it has featured heavily in the media in 2013, as this form of currency rises in significance and popularity,” said Dr Laugesen.
“The word was first used in 2008 in a paper by the founder of bitcoin, who goes by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, but we’ve only recently seen this term enter the public vocabulary.”
The other words that were shortlisted have also found a place in the Australian and international social and cultural landscape, some for controversial reasons.
“This year we learnt that to twerk is to dance in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance. We saw the term popularised by Miley Cyrus at the American VMA Awards, and, in Australia, by Clive Palmer during the election campaign.
“FOMO or ‘fear of missing out’ refers to the anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.
“And Australia’s election results this year saw the word microparty come to prominence, in reference to small political parties, often based around a single issue.”
Other shortlisted words were snapchat – a photo messaging application which allows users to share photos, videos, and text which disappear after 10 seconds; and captain’s pick – a decision made by a party leader without consultation with their party.
Oxford Dictionaries, with which the Centre is associated, chose selfie – a word with an Australian connection – as their International Word of the Year.
The 2013 Word of the Year and shortlist are selected by the research and editorial staff of the ANDC in the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, who undertake research into Australian English and edit Australian dictionaries for Oxford University Press.
You can read more about the word of the year on the ANDC’s blog