New Oxford American Dictionary names “unfriend” as Word of the Year

Social media continues to move mainstream, with social media terms entering the common lexicon. This point was driven home on Tuesday, as CNN.com reports that the New Oxford American Dictionary has named “unfriend” as its Word of the Year, beating out a field heavy with technology-based terms such as “netbook,” “hashtag” and “sexting.”

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” said Christine Lindberg, a language researcher for Oxford’s U.S. 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.”

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines “unfriend” as a verb that means to “remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.”

As you might expect, news of the honor awarded to the word “unfriend” spread quickly across social media sites, and not all of it was positive. Many people were upset that the New Oxford American Dictionary selected “unfriend” and not the similar term “defriend.”

“Frustrated that ‘unfriend’ is the word of the year. It’s definitely ‘defriend’ when referencing Facebook,” one Twitter user wrote, adding the hashtag #dictionaryfail.

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