Feeds

Oxford American Dictionary dubs 'unfriend' Word of the Year

Facebook craze sacks 'teabaggers'

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

Blame social networking for the latest cutesy-pie neologism tapped as the New Oxford American Dictionary's 2009 Word of the Year: unfriend.

Up against a range of tech-related buzzwords that included "netbook," "sexting," and "paywall," the North American verbal tome maker decided to celebrate the asocial side of online acquaintance-making:

Unfriend: verb; to remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook.

"It has both currency and potential longevity," said Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford's US dictionary program in a written statement. "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."

She notes that most words with an 'un-' prefix are adjectives, such as unacceptable and unpleasant, although there are some familiar 'un-' verbs in circulation, such as uncap and 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," she said. (Oh dear, must have been waiting some time to drop that one.)

Other finalists for New Oxford American Dictionary's 2009 word of the year included:

Hashtag: a # sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets that contain similarly tagged items and view thematic sets

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

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

Tramp Stamp: a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman

Birther: a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama's US birth certificate

And even stranger:

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)

The latter interestingly doesn't touch upon the testicular wordplay involved with "teabagger," which has made it a favorite among those who support Obama's policies. Either the folks at the Oxford University Press don't get out much, or they're having a bit of fun at the Republican Party's expense. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
WRISTJOB LOVE BONANZA: justWatch sex app promises blind date hookups
Mankind shuffles into the future, five fingers at a time
Every billionaire needs a PANZER TANK, right? STOP THERE, Paul Allen
Angry Microsoftie hauls auctioneers to court over stalled Pzkw. IV 'deal'
Apple's Mr Havisham: Tim Cook says dead Steve Jobs' office has remained untouched
'I literally think about him every day' says biz baron's old friend
Flaming drone batteries ground commercial flight before takeoff
Passenger had Something To Declare, instead fiddled while plane burned
Cops apologise for leaving EXPLOSIVES in suitcase at airport
'Canine training exercise' SNAFU sees woman take home booming baggage
Oi, London thief. We KNOW what you're doing - our PRECRIME system warned us
Aye, shipmate, it be just like that Minority Report
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.