Printable Version
Pronunciation: sel-fee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun

Meaning: A self-made photograph intended for social networking.

Notes: This year's Word of the Year according to the Oxford English Dictionary is selfie. I'm betting it will be a nonce word, undeserving a mention in the Good Word series, but since the most prestigious dictionary of the English language claims it to be the most important word of 2013, we cannot blithely ignore it.

In Play: A selfie is a self-portrait destined for social networking: "Since Bea Heine had no friends, she had to take a selfie to post on Facebook." Selfies are usually self-portraits of a person with one arm extended to hold the camera: "Gertrude wants us to believe that her dog made a selfie: his front leg is outstretched and his right paw is off-camera."

Word History: Today's Good Word obviously is a noun derived from the noun or adjective self. It is a slangy shortening of self-portrait. Self by far occurs more often in compound pronouns like myself, yourself, and himself. It has cousins throughout the Germanic language family: Dutch zelf, German selb, Icelandic sjálfr, Swedish själv, Norwegian sjølv, and Danish selv. Its origin is somewhat mysterious, but seems to have come from the same source word as Russian svoj "one's own" and Sanskrit svami "master (= on one's own)". Since Us often become Vs among Indo-European languages, this would allow its origin to coincide with Latin sui "himself, herself, themselves" found in the borrowed word suicide.

Dr. Goodword,

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