Oxford Word of the Year 2009: Unfriend
Birds are singing, the sun is shining and I am joyful first thing in the morning without caffeine. Why you ask? Because it is Word of the Year time (or WOTY as we refer to it around the office). Every year the New Oxford American Dictionary prepares for the holidays by making its biggest announcement of the year. This announcement is usually applauded by some and derided by others and the ongoing conversation it sparks is always a lot of fun, so I encourage you to let us know what you think in the comments.
Without further ado, the 2009 Word of the Year is: unfriend.
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.”
Wondering what other new words were considered for the New Oxford American Dictionary 2009 Word of the Year? Check out the list below.
intexticated – distracted because texting on a cellphone while driving a vehicle
netbook – a small, very portable laptop computer with limited memory
paywall – a way of blocking access to a part of a website which is only available to paying subscribers
sexting – the sending of sexually explicit texts and pictures by cellphone
freemium – a business model in which some basic services are provided for free, with the aim of enticing users to pay for additional, premium features or content
funemployed – taking advantage of one’s newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests
zombie bank – a financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but which continues to operate because of government support
Politics and Current Affairs
Ardi – (Ardipithecus ramidus) oldest known hominid, discovered in Ethiopia during the 1990s and announced to the public in 2009
birther – a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama’s birth certificate
choice mom – a person who chooses to be a single mother
death panel – a theoretical body that determines which patients deserve to live, when care is rationed
teabagger -a person, who protests President Obama’s tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as “Tea Party” protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773)
brown state – a US state that does not have strict environmental regulations
green state – a US state that has strict environmental regulations
ecotown - a town built and run on eco-friendly principles
deleb – a dead celebrity
tramp stamp – a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman
Notable Word Clusters for 2009: