Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year is….

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Selfie was named as Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year on Tuesday, following a sharp rise in the usage of the term, which refers to a photograph one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

The frequency of the word selfie in the English language has risen some 17,000 percent from a year ago, research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors shows.

"Using the Oxford Dictionaries language research program, which collects around 150 million words of current English in use each month, we can see a phenomenal upward trend in the use of selfie in 2013, and this helped to cement its selection as Word of the Year," Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, said in a statement.

(Read more: 'Selfie' and 'phablet' added to the English dictionary)

Musician Keith Urban takes a selfie photo with a fan, September 2013.
Al Pereira | Wire Image| Getty Images
Musician Keith Urban takes a selfie photo with a fan, September 2013.

Selfie is just one word among others such as phablet and coffice that have made it into modern-day language. Another buzz word this year has been twerk, which refers to dancing in a sexually provocative manner and made famous by singer Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards in August.

(Read more: 'Coffices' take off as the work place goes mobile)

The words twerk, Bitcoin, a digital currency, and binge-watch, which means watching multiple episodes of a TV program in quick succession, were all on the short list for Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, while the word "selfie" has been around for a few years, its usage has shot up in the past 12 months.

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It said the use of the word has become mainstream thanks to social media and photo-sharing websites such as Instagram and Flickr, with the widespread use of smartphones ensuring that selfies are easier to produce and share.

Photos of well-known personalities posing for photos taken by a mobile phone may have helped the growing popularity of the term.

(Read more: Funeral 'selfies'? Yes, people actually do that)

Pope Francis, leader of the estimated 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, posed with young Italians for a photo taken by a phone earlier this year in what has been described as the first papal selfie.

Selfie is not yet in the Oxford English Dictionary, but is being considered for future inclusion, Oxford Dictionaries said.

—By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe; Follow her on Twitter


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