Buzzworthy New Photo Words from the Oxford Dictionary

Buzzworthy New Photo Words from the Oxford Dictionary

Language is an ever-changing entity, and the folks at the Oxford Dictionaries Online are the self-appointed keepers of English as “the world’s most trusted dictionaries.” In an effort to keep up with the Joneses, Oxford makes quarterly additions to the dictionary, which have unsurprisingly included a number of photography related terms. So before you begin your digital detox while wearing your jorts, let’s take a look at a few entries from the past few years. srsly.


selfie, n. (informal): a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.


Photo by Gavi

Photo by L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters

Photo by L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters

I love the selfie and all its myriad forms. After writing an essay entitled “In Defense of the Selfie,” I came across yet another subgenre called the “bookshelfie” where the literati pose with their books because holding a Kindle just isn’t the same thing. Also, if the Pope does it, then it’s a officially a real thing, right?


photobomb, v. (informal): spoil a photograph of (a person or thing) by unexpectedly appearing in the camera’s field of view as the picture is taken, typically as a prank or practical joke. Total lolz.



My favorite is the celebrity photo bomb perhaps because of the novelty of seeing someone famous in an otherwise ordinary photo. Or maybe there’s a certain irony in the celebrity who dodges papparazzi by day, and photobombs by night. By the way, is Patrick Stewart the coolest? He does a mean quadruple take, btw.


GIF, v.: to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event).

Yeah, yeah, we know the noun form has been around for decades, but Oxford added the verb just last year referring to the creation of the animated GIF file. Its retro-coolness has given rise to the subgenre of Cinemagraph – a format so cool that Tyra Banks invested in it. My favorite GIF website is because they are “stupidly big GIFs” and there is the classic, based on the greatest sci-fi movie ever made. But perhaps we’ll go with Patrick Stewart to illustrate the art form.



sext, verb (informal): send (someone) sexually explicity photographs or messages via mobile phone.

Sexting amongst teens and young adults are as old as SMS technology itself, and the rise of apps like Snapchat certainly helped to elevate the practice. But like all things, sexting jumped the shark when disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner made it a virtual job duty. And then, of course, Geraldo.

A photo off the website shows a shirtless U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner



Rough-cut, noun: the first version of a film after preliminary editing.

Nearly every camera has video capabilities, and thus everyone from seasoned pros to soccer moms are in the movie making business today. Judging by youtube, however, many people are using their rough cuts as their final cuts.

Not yet words

D-SLR: Well over a decade after the first readily available DSLRs were shipped, Oxford still only lists SLR as a camera term. How many more bodies do we need to make this a real word?

pray-and-spray: If you’re (un)lucky enough to have a camera like the Nikon D4 (10fps) or the Canon 1DX (14fps), then you’re probably familiar with the term “pray-and-spray” which refers to indiscriminately filling the camera’s buffer in hopes of capturing the one “important” frame from an action sequence.

bloggorhea: This term almost made the, uh, rolls in 2008, but was eventually denied entry. It refers to the tendency for bloggers to write about nothing important or consequential — probably just to get a few extra page hits. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, right?

Twerk, Miley, twerk.

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Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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