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Lexeme of the twelvemonth

Oxford’s “word of the year” is the verb unfriend. ((Apparently last year it was hypermiling, which I’d never heard of. It just goes to show?)) Certainly, as a promoter of new un— usages, I am obliged to find unfriend attractive, though I suppose if it is to last in the language it will need to pass into ordinary speech describing offline behaviour. (“We used to be close, but he fell into a new crowd and unfriended me.”) Maybe it already has.

As usual, the shortlist also included some highly perishable Stupid Novelty Words (funemployed, deleb, intexticated), as well as a few that might turn out to have more staying power than the winner: paywall, ecotown, tramp stamp, and sexting?

What is your word of the year, readers?

  1. 1  kyrah  November 18, 2009, 12:28 pm 

    Clearly, bankster (though that was actually coined in the 1930s AFAIK)

  2. 2  Seeds  November 18, 2009, 3:53 pm 

    Come on, “unfriend” is the negation of what was a completely unnecessary verbification in the first place. It’s abhorrent!

    [Now I’m wondering if “verbification” is a word, or if it should be “verbing”…

    Ah, according to Wikipedia, both are OK.]

  3. 3  FuturePresent  November 18, 2009, 3:55 pm 


  4. 4  John Fallhammer  November 18, 2009, 4:19 pm 

    Not really a word, but I’ve had a great deal of amusement from “tl;dr” this year.

    Have the Americans only just heard “tramp stamp” “paywall” and “ecotown”? How quaint.

    And while I can see why they didn’t pick it, I think “teabagger” is the one that will stick. It’s a great name for a category of people who were just crying out for a convenient label.

  5. 5  Katherine Farmar  November 18, 2009, 4:45 pm 

    Livejournal users say “defriend” rather than “unfriend”, and I have heard “defriend in real life” being used at least once. (And after defriending someone, you can refriend them! If you want to.)

  6. 6  des von bladet  November 18, 2009, 8:16 pm 

    This is the word of the year of the “New Oxford American Dictionary” and presumably represents the only time in most years that anyone notices they are their at all.

    In Swedish “ovän” (literally “unfriend”) is a noun that stands in the same relation to “friend” as “unfriendly” does to “friendly”. It is a word I have long considered to be an unfortunate omission from Engleesh; this Oxford American twitticism is not much of a substitute.

  7. 7  Stan Halen  November 19, 2009, 12:23 am 

    Not so long ago I had to ask what a tramp stamp was and a friend put me right: “You know – arse antlers.”

  8. 8  MeatWork  November 19, 2009, 3:55 am 

    Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
    Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
    Dower’d with our curse, and stranger’d with our oath,
    Take her, or leave her?

  9. 9  Steven  November 19, 2009, 8:52 pm 

    Reasons to unfriend someone on Facebook apparently include: “if they upload inappropriate pictures of their stab wounds”.

  10. 10  C. Reaves  November 19, 2009, 9:23 pm 

    I actually prefer “de-friend”. But the Republican U.S. Congressional election loser who has now decided to unconcede his defeat is fast gaining ground. The term, not the loser, since his opponent has already been sworn into office.

  11. 11  MeatWork  November 19, 2009, 11:04 pm 

    From Steven’s link @9: “4….many people are finding they no longer like a number of their friends…”

    …or as Wilde is reported to have said, “He’s an excellent fellow. I don’t suppose he has an enemy in the world but his friends don’t like him..”

  12. 12  wh00ps  November 21, 2009, 4:26 pm 

    Being somewhat of an old codger who remembwhen it was only msn or yahoo, I still use ‘block’ in all online contexts. I think I’d prefer ‘defriend’ in real life though. Just because it sounds more like ‘befriend’

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