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noun [countable] informal

a selfie (= a photo you take of yourself for use in social media) of your suntanned legs taken to show that you are enjoying your holiday

'Lastly, the boldest beach-baskers have recently taken to a new kind of selfie – the legsie. They hold the camera under their chins and aim down their resplendent, golden bodies making sure to get in [sic] their legs in … Beyond the honeyed limbs, the sand and sea are usually visible …'

The Guardian 31st July 2013

There was a time when, if we wanted to share our holiday excitement with others, we'd have to buy a postcard (often displaying an image which only bore a passing resemblance to reality), scribble a few lines, find a stamp and a post box, and all being well the recipient would hear about our adventures several days later (or sometimes not until after our return!). But of course we now live in a hyper-connected world, and so we need a 21st century take on the 'Wish You Were Here …' sentiment , a real-time equivalent for the humble old postcard. Enter the legsie.

it might seem odd to circulate a photo featuring legs unattached to torso and head, the whole point about the legsie is that it gives an opportunity for the viewer to share the sender's point of view

A legsie is a photo, usually taken on your mobile phone, that you take by tucking the device under your chin and pointing it towards your outstretched legs whilst relaxing. The legsie has two key facets: first, the legs themselves, their bronzed aura hopefully publicizing the sunny climes and gorgeous warm temperatures you're currently enjoying, and second, the view beyond those legs, typically a beach or sun-kissed swimming pool. Though it might seem odd to circulate a photo featuring legs unattached to torso and head, the whole point about the legsie is that it gives an opportunity for the viewer to share the sender's point of view, a way of saying, 'This is what I'm looking at as I sit here enjoying myself …' in true 'Wish You Were Here' style. Predictably therefore, the legsie has the potential to provoke mixed reactions, some seeing it as just a fun way to share holiday experiences, and others viewing it as yet another example of the self-indulgent attitudes fostered by social media.

Like it or loathe it, there's no doubt that the concept of self-portraiture has really captured the imagination of social media lovers. The legsie is just one among an ever-expanding set of variations on the theme, which include the belfie (bum/butt + selfie, a shot of the posterior), helfie (hair + selfie, a shot of your hair), welfie (workout + selfie, a self-portrait of someone exercising) , drelfie (a selfie taken while drunk) and, arguably the most curious of all, the shelfie or bookshelfie (a shot of a person's bookshelves identifying their favourite reads, either with or without the reader).

Background – legsie

The term legsie is of course a by-product of the whole selfie phenomenon of burgeoning popularity in social media.

Though the word selfie has been around for several years, use of the term hit the global spotlight in late 2013, when Oxford Dictionaries announced it as their 'Word of the Year'. This led to inevitable speculation about the reasons for this choice and further consideration of where exactly selfie had sprung from.

As well as embodying something of the social media-orientated zeitgeist, selfie turns out to be an interesting case study in lexical productivity, quick to morph, as the examples above show, into a sizeable set of subcategories. What's interesting then, from a lexicographer's point of view, is not so much selfie per se but the apparent flexibility of the suffix -ie.

This suffix has affectionate overtones, conventionally associated with diminutive nouns and pet names, e.g. kiddie ('kid/child'), biccies ('biscuits'), bestie ('best friend'), sheddie, etc, and indeed it's thought that its use in selfie is an unconscious way of making an essentially rather narcissistic concept seem more endearing. It turns out however, that selfie originated in Australia, where use of the -ie suffix is very common and more randomly applied e.g.: barbie, ('barbecue'), wallie ('wallet'), firie ('fire-fighter'). The word dates back at least as far as 2002 when, just like many other words before it, self(-portrait) got the cutesy -ie treatment common in Australian slang.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

Last week …

Read last week's BuzzWord article. Chainwatch.

This article was first published on 14th January 2014.

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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