Oxford Dictionary Picks ‘Unfriend’

By Justyn

I find a certain amount of irony in events where old school meets new media. Take, for example, Oxford Dictionary’s choice for its word of the year for 2009: Unfriend – to remove someone from your list on a social network like Facebook or MySpace. Most modern websurfers understand just how important these social network sites are for day-to-day interaction with our e-buds. But this is Oxford Dictionary!

Some other web-inspired words that were in the running:

  • intexticated – distracted because texting on a cellphone while driving a vehicle.
  • 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.
  • paywall – a way of blacking access to a part of a website which is only available to paying subscribers
  • sexting – sending sexually explicit texts and pictures by cellphone

Important words from 2009

Oxford acknowledged that many words were word of the year worthy. 2009 has seen its fair share ups and downs and the words on the list reflect this fact. Here are a few other top picks:

  • 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
  • Birther – a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama’s birth certificate
  • 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)
  • Ecotown – a town built and run on eco-friendly principles
  • Deleb – a dead celebrity
  • Tramp stamp – a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman

Twitter gets a nod

While not making the list of words of the year, Twitter has its own series of words. At least Twitter is getting some recognition. Maybe next year they’ll top the list. Check out these Twitter-inspired words:

  • Tweeps – people following you on Twitter
  • Twitt - someone who makes unintelligent remarks on Twitter
  • Twitterati – people who monitor Twitter feeds for journalistic purposes
  • Twitterature – short snippets of famous literature posted on Twitter
  • Twitterverse - the general sphere of influence of Twitter
  • Retweet – to repost a Twitter message from someone else using a Twitter tool that links back to the original tweet
  • Tweetaholic – someone who is constantly on Twitter reading tweets
  • Twitterhea – someone who posts to Twitter about every little thought or impression throughout the day

For some reason I find it amazing that words so entrenched in modern technology and culture have found their way into such an old lexigraphic staple like Oxford Dictionary. It makes me wonder what new words we’ll be hearing soon…

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