Today is new Oxford Word of the Year time. 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.
Oxford university press reports that the 2009 Word of the Year is: “Unfriend“.
Unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.
Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program said “It has both currency and potential longevity. 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.”
Want to know what the other new words were considered for the New Oxford American Dictionary 2009 Word of the Year? Check out the list below.
- 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
- 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
Also check notable word clusters for 2009:
Dear Readers, We here at TheBlogIsMine encourage you to let us know what you think about New Oxford American Dictionary 2009 Word of the Year in the comments. [via OUP]