Nothing is more indicative of how prominent social networking sites have become than the fact that the New Oxford American Dictionary has selected the word “unfriend” as the word of 2009.
But that’s not the only sign of the times here–other runners up were:
hashtag: a # [pound] sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets.
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.
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).
tramp stamp: a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman
“Unfriend” won out in the end because of its currency and 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,” says Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program “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.”
Lex-appeal? Now that’s hot.
Information from OUP.