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Oxford Word of the Year 2009: Unfriend

Social networking on the internet has given us plenty of new words and terms (such as “social networking”), and the New Oxford American Dictionary is paying attention. The publishers announced that “unfriend” is their word of the year for 2009.

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.”

“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!). Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”

Other words considered for the honor included hashtag, sexting, and paywall, all of which are unfamiliar to my spellchecker. Link -via Mashable

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November 17th, 2009

Stranger to the World


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