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Oxford Word of the Year 2009: Unfriend




The New Oxford American Dictionary has announced its Word of the Year 2009. Of course, most of our readers have been using this word for years:

unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.

As in, “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.”

From the Oxford blog:

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” notes Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program. “In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year. Most “un-” prefixed words are adjectives (unacceptable, unpleasant), and there are certainly some familiar “un-” verbs (uncap, unpack), but “unfriend” is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of “friend” that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!).

Other contenders for Oxford’s Word of the Year include netbook, hashtag and intexticated (= texting while driving).

How long have you been “unfriending”? Or do you prefer to say “defriend”?

Do you have a better suggestion for the word of 2009, or even the word of the decade? The American Dialect Society is still accepting nominations, and you can submit them by tweeting your word along with the #woty09 hashtag. May we suggest… reface? :)

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Side notes

Oxford Word of the Year 2009: Unfriend Posted by on November 17, 2009 at 7:41 PM. Use this trackback if you're linking this story.

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