back to article Oxford American Dictionary dubs 'unfriend' Word of the Year

Blame social networking for the latest cutesy-pie neologism tapped as the New Oxford American Dictionary's 2009 Word of the Year: unfriend. Up against a range of tech-related buzzwords that included "netbook," "sexting," and "paywall," the North American verbal tome maker decided to celebrate the asocial side of online …


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  1. Ho55


    Um, where did they get that definition of 'Teabagger' from?!

    Anyone in the online FPS gaming scene will know that Teabagging is to "squat repeatedly over the head of a freshly killed opponent, as a taunt"

  2. Anonymous John


    As "befriend" is a verb, "unfriend" doesn't break any grammatical rule.

    I'd prefer "defriend" though.

  3. Candy


    Teabagger: An player of FPS games who indulges in the post-frag practice of teabagging his victim. Generally regarded as immature or antisocial behaviour.

  4. Adrian Jones

    Tramp Stamp

    I preferred the Aussies' "Arse-antlers".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...mutters something to self in disappointment.

    Oxford American Dictionary OGC

  6. Tommy Pock

    Actually, the correct form would be 'de-friend' somebody. Although this can also apply to killing all of a person's friends; an effective way, during a protracted argument, to bring somebody's opinion inline with one's own.

  7. Winkypop Silver badge


    LOL, etc....

    You Americans do speak funny...

  8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Actually, "unfriend" (noun) was coined by J.R.R. Tolkien

    In the Silmarillion, when men enter the woods of the green elves, the latter are their unfriends because men hunt animals.

  9. MuZiZZle


    So many frags, so many n00bs, I never realised I was making a political protest when I squatted over their faces!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tramp Stamp ?

    Surely they mean 'Arse Antlers' ...

  11. RISC OS

    A unreal word for people who don't have any real friends

    Unfriend... I shall never use it, it doesn't sound correct.

    Not that I use 'social' networking. If I want to speak to friends I would go out with them in real life.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Tramp stamp

    Wasn't a tramp stamp referred to as "arse antlers" last year? There seems to be some tattoo obsession here by the OAD :-)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doubleplus ungood

    as they also failed to explore the Orwellian overtones of "unfriend"

  14. irish donkey


    I thoght that was a 'Dogging Term'

    I guess I just not down with the Yoof no more.

    know what I mean.

  15. jake Silver badge

    idiots; n.

    People who are incapable of thinking for themselves.

  16. Jimmy Floyd
    Thumb Down


    Surely, to make it into that dictionary (even an American one) a word must actually be in common parlance? I've heard of about half of those.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Not to sound lame but...

    The NewSpeak Dictionary adds favowords speedwise, but why unfriend someone? Is (s)he a crimethinker? Or is (s)he guilty of sexcrime, such as the doubleplus ungood habit of procreating solowise?

    So I ask again. Why unfriend these people? The government needs to know.

    Please think of the children, there are criminals at large!



    This week only: report a neighbor double your ration. Get your coupons at MiniLuv now.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    defriendestrate ?

    expallification ?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    I am furious!

    I have an uncanny hate for portmanteaus.

  20. Bassey

    Tramp Stamp

    That must be an American term. Over here, they're called "Arse Antlers".

    And BBC breakfast's female presenter this morning (Kate?) advised viewers that "If you have any comments on today's stories, please feel free to sext us your views" mush to the amusement of Bill who choked his way through his next line.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "defriend" surely?

    Has the Oxford American dictionary also dropped cardinal numbers and adverbs which use the "ly" suffix?

    Selling paper dictionaries....good luck with that. I guess that's why they need to resort to the inclusion of kidzpeak.

  22. Rogier de Groot


    I seem to recall Tolkien's Silmarillion using the word 'unfriend', so I presume it pretty much predates social networking... Although that might have been as a noun instead of a verb.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I know language evolves, but some of this makes one wonder at the criteria used to include a recent term in the dictionary. Maybe all dictionaries ought to have a separate section at the end for words that are still proving they are more than a passing popular phase.

  24. The Original Ash
    Big Brother

    So, it's the Newspeak Dictionary then?

    Here comes the First Edition, lads. Expect word count to start dropping REAL soon.

  25. Annihilator


    Surely it's defriend, or perhaps de-friend.

  26. Z 1
    Big Brother


    What a beautiful example of newspeak. Doubleplusgood! O'brien would be proud...

  27. Dale 3

    Newly invented words

    These are just recycled old words either with extra letters added at the beginning or end, or two old words mashed together. Don't get me wrong, they are quite fun and creative, but it would be nice to see occasionally a few completely new made up words, such as grimplestiple, for which I haven't decided on a meaning yet.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

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

    Oh please, Arse Antler is much better.

  29. Stephen Hunt

    @Iron Oxide

    Are you sure you're not angrious?

  30. Anonymous Coward

    I think a few people...

    need to find out the reason for a dictionary. It is not to tell you what words you should use, or how you should use them, or to use correct grammer, but to record current usage and the language as it stands today.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tommy Pock

    No, the "correct" form is what people use. But I admire your way of winning an argument...

    And @Michael H.F. Wilkinson: did you not learn the difference between verbs and nouns at school then?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Teabagger, birther. Ah, Americans embracing gay slang as terms for republicans. It amuses me. (Birther = slang for a heterosexual, female)

  33. Gerry Doyle 1

    New words for old things

    Years ago we sat in a kitchen moaning how all the new things had descriptions but not names - 'deep fat frier' and the like, so we decided to make at least one new one for something that didn't have a name.

    So, you know that plastic bag filled with plastic bags? Everybody has one, under the sink or in a press in the kitchen somewhere, slowly getting bigger with all those free bags you will never reuse.

    That's called a prock, but somehow it just never caught on.

  34. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    @Dale 3

    Grimplestiple (noun) A word for which there is, as yet, no meaning.

    Thus making grimplestiple a nongrimplestiple.

  35. Rob


    They considered Hashtag, why not include all HTML markup language while we're at it.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfriending in bulk

    Would the verb for unfriending ten percent of your alleged friends be - by any chance - decimate?

  37. Stratman

    Tramp stamp

    I would maintain that the truly excellent term "Arse antlers" is a subset of "Tramp stamp",the latter being any tattoo sported by a slapper (skank for our colonial cousins), thus the Yankish term can describe the lower back tattoo, but the Old World term is more descriptive and indeed more amusing.

  38. Dave Cradle

    Tramp stamp? Arse antlers?

    I suppose tramp stamp is more in keeping with the traditional but more offensive Slag Tag. (As it is also known in these parts).

    Not as funny as Arse Antlers, though.

  39. Sally 4

    @Anonymous Coward

    "I think a few people... need to find out the reason for a dictionary. It is not to tell you what words you should use, or how you should use them, or to use correct grammer, but to record current usage and the language as it stands today."

    I think you'll also find a dictionary will show you the correct spelling for words, such as "grammar".

  40. Fluffykins Silver badge

    @Ed Blackshaw

    No, Grimplestiple is a verb: To stimp in a grimply fashion

    Two words for which there is, as yet, no meaning.

    Thus making to grimplestiple into ungrimplestiple.

  41. Martin

    I feel a touch of the old fogeys coming on...

    ...but "unfriend" as Word of the Year? What the hell are the criteria? It's not clever, it's not elegant, it's not even desperately useful. It won't stick, either - in five years time (or possibly less) no-one will use "unfriend" for anything.

  42. Jon 66

    shouldn't it be


  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tea bagging

    To American youth / college students, tea bagging means some thing different . It involves a man dropping his pants a draping his, well just google it .

  44. Richard 102

    "Tramp Stamp"

    That's just now getting around? I heard that about seven or eight years ago. I also heard the term ASCAP applied to it, which I was really hoping would take off because of all the conotations that would make my musician friends laugh. Alas, 'twas not to be, and our grand language is ever so slightly poorer for it.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    It's interesting that tramp stamp is just now getting in. It has been around in general use for more than 20 years. Netbook and hashtag are also somewhat understandable. I don't have great problems with unfriend, but I hate that it's a word of the year. It's also interesting that teabaggers is getting in along with birthers as political words. Birther is already pretty obsolete and the political meaning of teabagger will be forgotten soon as well. Teabagging will remain in usage for quite some time though...

  46. Dale Morgan


    In the UK arse antlers is never used, tramp stamp is a much more common term, I'd never heared of arse antlers until today

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