This Country Is To Blame For The Word "Selfie"

by Eliza Castile

Australia has given the rest of the world many wonderful things over the years: Hugh Jackman, flat whites, and not one but three Hemsworth brothers, to name a few. It looks like the country isn't content with its steady output of wildly attractive actors, however, because the Oxford Dictionaries have found that the term "selfie" came from Australia. Whether you're a fan of the phrase or not, just try to imagine what your Instagram would be like without this particular bit of Aussie slang. Hint: probably a barren wasteland of tastefully filtered landscape photos and the occasional cute party pic — so basically, really boring. Quelle horreur!

Although "selfie" seems to be a ubiquitous phrase now, two years after it was named Oxford Dictionary's 2013 word of the year, it wasn't always part of the worldwide vocabulary. Oxford Dictionaries recently managed to trace the term all the way back to a 2002 ABC forum post, in which the user apologized for the focus of a picture he posted because "it was a selfie," Mashable reports. Editor and researcher at the Australian National Dictionary Center (ANDC) Mark Gwynn, however, was quick to caution against jumping to conclusions."

It does sort of fit the bill for Australian terms, given the '-ie' suffix," he told Mashable. "We would say it could possibly come from Australia."

<img alt="" src="" class="article-body-image"/>Gwynn is referring to Australian slang's tendency to shorten words and add "ie" to the end, which can be seen in words like "pollie" (politician), "bikkie" (biscuit), and, of course, "Aussie." According to the researcher, Australian's slang is popular around the world for this very reason. "The very informality of words... are endearing and logical," he told Mashable. "An easy shortening of longer words, so it's not difficult for other countries to come on board."Australia isn't the only country to produce phrases that blow up seemingly out of nowhere. These are the origins of a few other bits of slang that, for better or for worse, the Internet picked up and never put down.


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Are you tired of hearing about YOLO? Too bad. I'm putting it on the list because, well, YOLO. Despite its popularity in the modern day, the battle cry of fraternity brothers worldwide has a surprisingly extensive history. Variations on the phrase date all the way back to the 1700s, when Samuel Richardson's wrote in his novel Clarissa that "we live but once." The sentiment stayed in popular lexicon for centuries; actress Mae West pretty much used it as a life motto. There was even an attempt in the '90s to trademark the phrase for merchandise, although that presumably didn't catch on. As you're most likely aware, though, Drake popularized the phrase again with his single "The Motto," and since he's the most recent reason for YOLO's renaissance, I'd say we can blame Canada for this one.

2. Basic

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Every time Pumpkin Spice Latte season rolls around, this one suddenly catapults back into the internet's vocabulary. According to Urban Dictionary, "basic" is the term used to refer to anyone who is "uninteresting, vapid, boring, or uncool." The basic bitch loves syrupy Starbucks drinks, Ugg boots, and Lululemon. Whether you agree that it's a thinly veiled excuse for misogyny or not, "basic" is a term frequently associated with sorority sisters on American college campuses. Therefore, it's a pretty unequivocally American term.

3. Bae

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You had to know this was coming. One minute, you called your SO your partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, or possibly by a cute pet name. Then 2014 came around, and kids were all calling each other "bae" even though not even they could really figure out where it came from. Soon, Pharrell used it in a song title, and thinkpieces were being written pondering the origins of the word. Linguists started referring to the "ascendance of bae" unironically. Meanwhile, my girlfriend at the time started referring to me as bae around other people, and I not-so-coincidentally developed an eye twitch.Nobody has really managed to figure out where it came from yet, but there are urban dictionary entries defining "bae" dating all the way back to 2003. The meaning is similarly debated; some claim it's a shortening of "babe," others claim it stands for "before anyone else," and the rest of us are wondering why people care this much about Internet slang.

TL;DR: Bae is still a mystery to us all. Perhaps it's better this way.

Images: keystonehathaway/Tumblr, Giphy