Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The OED 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.”

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” notes 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.”

Other new words *that were considered but not included:

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

deleb – a dead celebrity

tramp stamp – a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman

* Eagle-eyed reader Stephanie brought this error to my attention. Correction: these words were not added to the OED! Just--allegedly--"considered." Thanks, Stef!



  1. These words are actually being added to the OED? The real OED??? Am I missing something? Are these even in common use (aside from unfriend and tramp stamp)?

  2. :D I didn't even think of that. Thanks for noticing.

  3. I thin it's not even really the OED--it's the New Oxford American Dictionary, their more casual one. I think this is really just a novelty promo event to get publicity for OUP (and it works!). I don't think they automatically put the new word in the dictionary.
    Sincerely, Mr. Boring

  4. Oh, I don't think it's boring--I find it nerdishly interesting! :P

    I got so excited about the silly new words, that I didn't even stop to think: wait a minute. There's no way something like "deleb" is going to make it into the OED. Like Stef pointed out, the word really has to be something that's actually being commonly used.

    But it makes even MORE sense that this isn't even the real OED. You're's just a cheap publicity ploy. (that works.:P)

  5. It's a sad concept - "unfriend" - but it is a good new word.