At the end of every year, several dictionaries announce their Word of the Year. These are words or expressions that were very popular that year.

Oxford University Press, the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary, has been announcing a Word of the Year (WOTY) since 2004.

The Oxford Dictionaries editorial staff announces a WOTY each for the UK and US dictionaries. Sometimes, these are the same word.

The WOTY isn't always a word. In 2015, it was the face with tears of joy emoji!

This is a GIF of a man taking selfies!

Here are some of our favorites. With each word, you also get a quick history lesson.

1. podcast (2005) – Soon after the iPod became popular in 2004, people also started listening to podcasts, or audio programs they downloaded over the Internet. Apple doesn’t make iPods anymore, but people still listen to podcasts!

2. carbon footprint (2007) – The UN Environment Program (UNEP) shared the results of their study on the world’s environmental well-being in 2007. Because of this report, people became worried about how they were destroying the environment. They started looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, or the amount of carbon dioxide they produced each year based on their lifestyle.

3. GIF (2012) – In the year the Graphics Interchange Format, better known by its acronym GIF, turned 25, it also became the Word of the Year for Oxford Dictionaries US. Shortly after that, Steve Wilhite, the inventor of the GIF, told everyone that the correct pronunciation of GIF is with a J sound, as in Japan.

4. unfriend (2009) – Before Facebook, few people used this word to talk about people they were no longer friends with. Now, when we unfriend someone, we remove them from our social media friends list, even if we’re still friends with them in real life.

5. selfie (2013) – By 2013, everybody had a smartphone with a front-facing camera. People started taking selfies, or pictures of themselves, to share them on social media.

We’ll be back with more Words of the Year next time!

If you want to improve your English listening and speaking skills, you need to improve your English vocabulary.

You can do this by studying both commonly used words and new words. Learntalk can help you with both!
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