Whether it was the London Olympics or the presidential debates, this year's most noteworthy events may have aired first on TV, but the Web is where they became immortal. GIFs of viral moments captured in virtually real time were as prevalent as they were sought after, establishing a new standard for telling stories online. But if the rise of the GIF wasn't already self evident, look no further than the August keepers of the vernacular flame at the Oxford University Press, who today named "GIF" itself the American Word of the Year.
“GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun,” Katherine Martin, head of the US dictionaries program at Oxford said in a statement. “The GIF has evolved from a medium for pop-cultural memes into a tool with serious applications including research and journalism, and its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace.”
GIF faced stiff competition on its way to receiving the honor. Among runners up for word of 2K12 was "YOLO."
[via the Associated Press]