Origin of the word ‘selfie’

It seems almost certain the selfie originated in Australia with a young drunk first using the word to describe a self-portrait photograph more than a decade ago.

Oxford Dictionaries revealed the earliest known usage is from a 2002 online ABC forum post. The next recorded usage is also from Australia with the term appearing on a personal blog in 2003. “It seems likely that it may have originated in the Australian context,” dictionary editor Katherine Martin said. The earliest evidence that we know of at the moment is Australian and it fits in with a tendency in Australian English to make cute, slangy words with that ‘ie’ ending.” There’s barbie for barbecue, firie (or firey) for firefighter, tinnie for a can of beer, truckie for truck driver, tradie for tradesman.

Oxford Dictionaries says in mid-September 2002, an Australian wrote on ABC online: “Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.

Although “selfie” can be traced back more than 20 years, it only gained momentum throughout the English-speaking world in 2013.


Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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