The Oxford English Dictionary has published its list of new words that have been added this year, with a major amount of them coming from the worlds of social media and search. This morning the Oxford University Press announced that its 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.”
Oxford declared “unfriend” as its 2009 Word of the Year because of its “currency and potential longevity” according to 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.”
Here are some other technologically driven words from the New Oxford American Dictionary 2009 :
hashtag – a # [hash] sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets (postings on the Twitter site) that contain similarly tagged items and view thematic sets
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