Johnny Misheff

Krutika Mallikarjuna and Chris Ritter /

Remember those unsettling dancing babies? The ones that got passed around the Internet in the days before social media and eventually made their way onto the Fox TV show, Ally McBeal? Those were GIFs.  

GIF stands for graphics interchange format. It's a series of still images, looped --  and last month, after 25 years of existence, it was named the Oxford English Dictionary 2012 American word of the year.