My good friend and IT lifeline, James Frost, sent me this. According to The Register, the New Oxford American Dictionary’s 2009 Word of the Year is “unfriend”. As in, “Me and Haley had this huge, like, fight and stuff so I totally unfriended her on Facebook.”

The actual entry is: 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, said, “It has both currency and potential longevity”. She also said, “But ‘unfriend’ is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of ‘friend’ that is really not used.” Which is complete bollocks. Of course the verb use of friend is used. I’ve had people say to me, “Friend me on Facebook and send me the link” or similar. If they accept unfriend as a verb, friend as a verb is a given. That’s what you get with an American dictionary, I suppose. Perhaps they’re less friendly over there and only recognise unfriending people.

According to the article, other finalists in the 2009 Word Of The Year included:

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.

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.

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.

Tramp Stamp: a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman.

Seriously, this dictionary is losing credibility all over the place. First they claim there’s no such verb as friend, after making unfriend the word of the year. Then they claim that “tramp stamp” was a contender for word of the year. That’s two words! How does it even qualify?

Still, at least they avoided drawing attention to the rise in use of medal and podium as verbs. That began to annoy me more and more throughout the last Olympics. Language is an organic and ever growing thing, changes are going to occur and there’s no point railing against it. But let’s at least try to keep some kind of order. At the very least, let’s not include phrases in some arbitrary “Word Of The Year” debacle.

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