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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Do You Know What ‘YOLO’ Means?

It’s that time again, when we start considering what words have found their way into our vocabulary this past year.

The Oxford English Dictionary has named “omnishambles” its word of the year – it means an all-out fiasco.

The Oxford American Dictionary picks the verb “GIF.” The acronym has long been used as a noun for the file type “graphic interchange format,” which supports animations. But it’s now being used as a verb for making the image and video sequences that have become ubiquitous on the web.

We speak with linguist and language columnist Ben Zimmer who’s been compiling his own list of words. He tells Here & Now that they include YOLO, the acronym for “you only live once,” made popular by rappers Drake and Rick Ross.

But Zimmer says it “kind of became a joke – YOLO actually stands for ‘you obviously lack originality.'”

This animation, merged with a Japanese pop song, is among the most famous GIFs. It’s been viewed more than 87 million times on YouTube:


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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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