Snarky ‘gif’ comes full circle, celebrated as Word of the Year

Matt Coutts
Daily Brew

They are as old as the internet itself, but those tiny, choppy videos known as gifs have recaptured the imagination of trendsetters and meme-lovers, earning the tiny moniker the Word of the Year honour.

Oxford University Press declared "gif" its top U.S. term of 2012, according to the Canadian Press, just 25 years after the bite-sized moving images first appeared.

The resurrected file format beat out "YOLO" (you only live once), giving logophiles a nice bit of irony to chortle over as they recover from the fact that Oxford chose two acronyms over actual words.

[ The Sideshow: GIF named word of the year by Oxford American Dictionary ]

For those Canadians who don't know what a gif is, check out this site that uses them to express the mood of an average Vancouverite. If you are from the West Coast, you may find yourself nodding in understanding. If you are not, feel free to roll your eyes. That's the true spirit of the gif.

Here, for example, is a gif of a small rodent eating broccoli.

Small rodent eating some broccoli

Aaaand ... that's a gif.

Short for graphics interchange format, gifs made their first appearance more than two decades ago when internet programming was in its infancy and the thought of streaming entire movies online was still science fiction.

They have recently been resurrected on social media and in blogs to capture moments in sports and pop culture, as well as capitalize on the short attention spans and the appetite for snark inherent in most web surfers.

The gif really capitalized on the U.S. presidential election, as one meme after another appeared in the wake of debates and gaffes.

Obama: I'll take it from here

Oxford also announced the British Word of the Year to be "omnishambles," defined as "a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations." The word was used to define the series of blunders leading up to the London Olympics.

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Other candidates were "mommy porn," popularized in the wake of the book 50 Shades of Grey, as well as "the Mobot" — the victory dance popularized by Olympic distance runner Mo Farah.

To bring things full circle, here is a gif of Usain Bolt doing the Mobot.

Usain Bolt doing the Mobot

Oxford does not announce the Canadian word of the year, leaving us to debate whether "prorogue," "lockout," "pipeline" or something else best defines our country in 2012.

What are your recommendations for Canada's Word of the Year?

<a href='' >A small creature eating broccoli</a>