"Unfriend" is Oxford's Word of the Year

Maximum PC Staff

The modification of the English language, due to advances in technology, continues apace. The latest addition to the language, and “word of the year” in fact, is “unfriend.”

Unfriend, a verb that means “to remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook” is the New Oxford American Dictionary’s word of the year for 2009 . A simple example of usage, according to the Dictionary: “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.”

Christine Lindberg, a Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s U.S. dictionary program says the word “has both currency and potential longevity. Lindberg notes “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!).” Unable to resist the pun, Lindberg adds: “Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”

Other new technology-generated words in competition for the award were “hashtag,” “intexticated,” “netbook,” “paywall,” and “sexting.”

Image Credit: Oxford University Press

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