The GIF file type for simple animations has been around since the '80s but only now has the Oxford Dictionary decided to make it its American word of the year. GIF—which stands for "graphic interchange format"—"celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun," Oxford said in a press release, noting the role of GIFs this year in everything from the Olympics to the spread of "Gangnam Style" to the presidential debates.
GIF beat several other entries to become word of the year, including "YOLO," an acronym for "you only live once," reports NPR. Other contenders included Higgs boson, "Eurogeddon" for the possible European Union financial meltdown, super PAC, superstorm, and "nomophobia"—the fear of being without one's mobile phone. Winners from previous years include "refudiate," coined by Sarah Palin in 2010. (Read more dictionary stories.)