November 18, 2014 / 3:37 PM / in 3 years

Oxford chooses 'vape' as its 2014 Word of the Year

Enthusiast Brandy Tseu uses an electronic cigarette at The Vapor Spot vapor bar in Los Angeles, California March 4, 2014.Mario Anzuoni

(Reuters) - The Oxford English Dictionary named "vape" - the word used for drawing on an electronic cigarette instead of a burning stick of tobacco – as its 2014 word of the year.

"You are thirty times more likely to come across the word 'vape' than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year," staff editors said Monday.

The 2013 word of the year was "selfie," describing the decidedly less controversial self-portrait taken with a smart phones.

The rise of e-cigarettes was cited as the reason for the skyrocketing use of the word - along with countless debates over the safety of using it long term.

The word appeared to peak this year in April, when New York City banned vaping indoors and the United Kingdom opened its first vape café, The Vape Lab in Shoreditch, London, according to the Oxford statement.

A 1983 article in New Society described the e-cigarette, which had not been invented, in as-yet hypothetical terms and appeared to be among the earliest references to the word vaping in that context, Oxford editors said.

It wasn't until 2009, however, that the term began to catch on, editors said.

OxfordDictionaries.com officially added the definition in August. The verb is defined as "to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device."

A derivative of vapor or vaporizing, the word can also be a noun describing the action and the device.

The winner beat out a short list of runners up that included bae, a term for a beloved significant other.

The list also included budtender, a person who serves up cannabis in a shop or dispensary, and slacktivism, a combination of slacker and activism that describes supporting causes through low-level activities such a signing online petitions.

Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Doina Chiacu

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