A Brief History of the 'Selfie': Oxford Dictionaries International Word of the Year 2013

Ellen's Good News

Oxford Dictionaries officially deemed "selfie" the International Word of the Year 2013, surpassing tough competitors like "twerk" and "Bitcoin."

First, go ahead, take a quick one and post it to celebrate.

Next, let's take a look at how social media's favorite idiom became both a relevant and necessary addition to the English language:

It all began in 2002. Dictionary editors track the origins of the selfie to an ABC forum in September of that year. An inebriated man at his friend's 21st birthday party posted a close-up image of his injured lips, and dubbed it a selfie. The identity of the man remains a mystery, except to say that he refers to himself as "Hopey."

Selfie
Selfie

Really though, the very first selfie can likely be traced all the way back to Vincent Van Gogh in 1886. These early self-portrait sketches prove he too struggled to find that perfect angle.

selfie 2
selfie 2

Van Gogh created a bunch more selfies, most notably this one, post-ear-chop-off.

selfie 3
selfie 3

Anyhow, back to Hopey.

Once established, the selfie needed a platform to takeoff. Enter MySpace circa 2003. People had to figure out a way to create a profile image because it was previously not socially acceptable/slightly vain to be snapping shots of yourself in public.

The selfie became the classic high angle, head tilted photograph, like this:

selfie 4
selfie 4

With the advent of Facebook in 2004, the selfie-in-the-mirror look became all the rage. People not only needed to tell the world they were working out, they needed evidence of their progress, or just that they actually went to the gym.

For the next five years, there were a lot of these:

selfie 5
selfie 5

And a few of these:

selfie 6
selfie 6

In 2010, Instagram brought the selfie to a whole new level once celebrities took charge. Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian -- they pretty much perfected the art with the help of the reverse iPhone camera. Now there's a variety of selfies.

Like the duckface selfie:

selfie 7
selfie 7

The selfie-with-friends:

selfie 8
selfie 8

The aloof and apathetic selfie:

selfie 9
selfie 9

The happened-to-be-kissing selfie:

selfie 10
selfie 10

The driving-while-selfieing:

selfie 11
selfie 11

The no-filter, no-makeup, except maybe a little bit of makeup selfie:

selfie 12
selfie 12

The 'hey look I'm at the beach' selfie:

selfie 13
selfie 13

The selfie for the sake of a selfie selfie:

selfie 14
selfie 14

And now, we're here. The Pope's doing selfies:

selfie 16
selfie 16

It's been an epic journey. Congrats to selfie on its well-deserved recognition!