Oxford Dictionary Word of 2009: UNFRIEND


Signifies the impact of Facebook on the culture. Unfriend means to remove someone as a friend on Facebook. As in, “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.” Just looking back at the words of the year for the past five years is fun. Tells us what we think is important in western culture:

— 2008 HYPERMILING: Keeping the tires on your car properly inflated to maximize your gas mileage and doing other things like removing roof racks.

— 2007 LOCAVORE: Eating locally grown food (in sync then with the seasons and the environment; not a big carbon footprint attached to your food either). Speaking of which, the word for 2006 was…

— 2006 CARBON NEUTRAL: Being carbon neutral involves calculating your total climate-damaging carbon emissions, reducing them where possible, and then balancing your remaining emissions, often by purchasing a carbon offset: paying to plant new trees or investing in “green” technologies such as solar and wind power

— 2005 PODCAST:  defined as “a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player”. Seems almost old-fashioned now. SO mid 00s!

— 2004 BLOG: was Merriam Webster’s word of 2004; Oxford had it as the word of the Year in 2003!

Cultural barometer, for sure, this word of the year. From Susie Dent’s fanboys and overdogs:

1908 — Dow Jones
1918 — D-Day
1923 — environmentalism (interesting)
1947 — pop single
1959 — Barbie
1971 — gonzo
1980 — Reaganomics
1988 — vogueing
2000 — speed dating

The culture NOW, as reflected by THE WORD, is green focused and tech focused! What will the themes be in the next decade?


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