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Unfriend Has Been Faved
November 17, 2009 3:27 AM   Subscribe

The New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year is.... UNFRIEND. That's right, the negation of the verbification of 'friend'. Well, it's not quite as cringe-worthy as some of the runners-up... Teabagger?!? And previous winners of this honor were Hypermiling (2008), Locavore (2007), Carbon-Neutral (2006) and Podcast (2005) (links include each year's finalists, including frugalista, staycation, bacn, mumblecore, Islamofascism, funner, lifehack and squick). Best comment about the WotY (so far)? "an unreliable yet fascinating barometer of tech". But, at risk of over-editorializing, these look more like candidates for the Banished Words List. Clearly better is the recent list of "A Word a Year, 1906-2006" from Oxford's website (if only for the invaluable perspective of time).
posted by oneswellfoop (73 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
And all this time I've been using 'defriend'. I feel so uncool.
posted by pompomtom at 3:32 AM on November 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I have crossed fingers that 2010 will be the Year of the Meef.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:40 AM on November 17, 2009


There is no noun that cannot be verbed.
posted by Electric Dragon at 3:51 AM on November 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


"unfriend" has been in my vocabulary since about 2001 (hello, livejournal!). I don't see it going anywhere; if you can add friends on a service, you're inevitably going to unfriend them to mad drama.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:53 AM on November 17, 2009


This kind of crap is the price we pay for speaking the world's most successful language. A few linguistic fundamentalists may unfriend me for these views, but given that the alternative is having to learn other languages I can live with that.
posted by rhymer at 3:57 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


They definitely got it wrong in 2007. A "locavore" would logically be one who eats places, or locales. A Galactus on a smaller scale. It'd be really swell if people needed to be smacked around with a Greek or Latin book or two before being allowed to coin words.

I really wish "squick" had made it, if only for the self-fulfilling humor of having people be squicked out in pursuit of the explanation there-of.
posted by explosion at 4:07 AM on November 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't think unfriend is really cringeworthy, and I don't think many of the runners-up or past winners are all that bad anyhow. If you're going to pick a word-of-the-year, it needs to be something both relatively new and relatively popular. And that means it's gotta be pretty current-events topical.

All praise to Unfriend. Long live the king.
posted by Plutor at 4:08 AM on November 17, 2009


Oh yes, I would have voted for squick for sheer usefuless, but unfriend says the most about the nature of a social media world, so I can see why it won. They say "friended" isn't a verb, but it so is.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:14 AM on November 17, 2009


"Friended" is a predicate adjective, but close.
posted by kittyprecious at 4:24 AM on November 17, 2009


"Locavore" should be a Dr Who monster that eats madness.
posted by Grangousier at 4:30 AM on November 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


The verb form of "friend" is "befriend" and has been around a bit longer than Facebook.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:36 AM on November 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


How double plus un-good.
posted by Taft at 4:37 AM on November 17, 2009


Explosion, NOAD isn't claiming to coin these words, just to record their usage (admittedly, probably more for the purposes of publicity than anything else).

Besides, there's no reason why a word has to follow the meaning of its roots; to claim otherwise is to fall victim to the etymological fallacy.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 4:39 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


'intexticated' for driving while texting? Seriously?
posted by delmoi at 4:40 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Internet is definately responsable for the dumbing down of the english language, were people make mistakes when they really ought to now better.

Its like, to late, when your so used too making errors and can't except advise and chose to keep doing things you're way then insure your doing it right.

So its not hard to believe words like unfriend become common, because on the Internet, anything goes, and goes hardly.
posted by bwg at 4:42 AM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


explosion: 'Locavore' was coined by Jessica Prentice, and it's actually pretty commonly these days.
posted by delmoi at 4:43 AM on November 17, 2009


that gives me hope for the resale of 'thedefriender.com' that i bought one night to peals of laughter about all the hilarious ways we could riff on the platters while auto-removing your most annoying twitter neighbors. my godaddy account is a graveyard of flash-in-the-pan internet ideas yet developed.
posted by carlodio at 4:43 AM on November 17, 2009


I also use "defriend." I was not consulted during this process.
posted by mmmbacon at 5:10 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Unfriend" sounds like a natural English coinage to me - if Shakespeare was happy to use "unsex", why not "Ill betide that follower, that would unfriend me now..."?
posted by Phanx at 5:12 AM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


At least they're words people actually use, unlike the American Dialog Society choosing lame words like "Plutoed" as word of the year. NO ONE HAS EVER SAID THAT OTHER THAN YOU, ADS!
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:14 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Me fail English? That's unpossible!
posted by Rhomboid at 5:18 AM on November 17, 2009


I'm happy to use both defriend and unfriend, since I already have been:
Defriend is the opposite of befriend- to systematically reduce contact and connection with someone until they're no longer your friend.
Unfriend is the deleting of a 'friend' from a list e.g. on a social networking site.

Anyway, it's time to hammer the last few nails in... RIP English.
.
posted by sid.tv at 5:21 AM on November 17, 2009


Teabagger is the n****** of the America.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:23 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Verbing weirds language.
posted by roombythelake at 5:34 AM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


The verb friend doesn't mean the same as befriend. We all know that Facebook friends aren't the same thing as actual friends, although they can include actual friends. Befriending someone implies becoming their actual friend, so it's useful to have another verb for becoming social-network friends. Friend fits the bill, and given that the action of de-listing a Facebook friend is potentially awkward, it's hardly surprising that the un- form has also appeared.

"I befriended him, but didn't want to friend him right away. Now I've friended him too, but I don't really like having friend friends as friends, so I might unfriend him. Do you think he'll still want to be friends?"
posted by rory at 5:34 AM on November 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


faved.
posted by Sailormom at 5:34 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd rather disfriend, myself. Or is that something I do only if I misfriend someone?
posted by tellurian at 5:42 AM on November 17, 2009


At least it wasn't frenemy.
posted by sciurus at 5:51 AM on November 17, 2009


I too am guilty of using "defriend." Never used "unfriend" admittedly. However, thinking about it now, you can add "un" to a lot of words to get the desired opposite effect, but you cannot really do the same with "de."

Consider:
Invite--Uninvited, not Deinvited
Accepted-Unaccepted not Deaccepted

I'm sure there is some sort of classification for such terms--I'm sure someone else will inevitably attempt to impress us all with such enlightenment, secretly regurgitating info they just learned on Wikipedia.
posted by stevenstevo at 6:01 AM on November 17, 2009


Neologisms are vomitrocious.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:02 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


cringe-worthy

C'mon, it's not like they picked "no homo" as the word of the year. Unfriend is so not that bad.

Also, the word of the year should've totally been "butthurt".
posted by 23skidoo at 6:03 AM on November 17, 2009


Pleh, locavore irritates me. Having heard it used (and apparently mispronounced) in conversation once, I assumed it was "locivore" and imagined it as describing the distribution of your favourite places to eat either scattered along or lying within an elliptical orbit where your home and your place of employment are the loci.

Also, defriend > unfriend.
posted by elizardbits at 6:09 AM on November 17, 2009


malfriend: Not an enemy but a really bad friend. Someone who, while trying to put out the fire that they started with their cigarette, accidentally knocks over your Christmas tree, shattering all your priceless ornaments, and killing your puppy in the process.

antifriend: Someone who claims to be your friend but is exactly opposite to you in every way possible with their views on pop culture, homosexuality, literature, religion, politics, and abortion.

underfriend: To be a very passive friend; not available for parties, advice, or support.

ultrafriend:
A friend that would die for you. Someone who not only brings books and flowers to you while you are in the hospital but also donates blood for you, house- and pet-sits for you, and raises funds to cover your bill.

pre-friend: To make overtures towards a friendship. To spend some time with an acquaintance in order to see if you would be a good fit as a friend.

hyperfriend: To exhaust someone with your attentions. Too many phone calls, too many gifts, too many drop-ins which leaves them feeling overwhelmed and confused.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:21 AM on November 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


Invite--Uninvited, not Deinvited
Accepted-Unaccepted not Deaccepted


Invite -- Disinvite
Capitate -- Decapitate.
posted by delmoi at 6:28 AM on November 17, 2009


You think if we gave all these dictionary makers a perpetual grant they would stop trolling for attention every year? "OMG THEY ADDED 'OMG' TO THE DICTIONARY, MABEL!!!1"
posted by DU at 6:34 AM on November 17, 2009


"I befriended him, but didn't want to friend him right away. Now I've friended him too, but I don't really like having friend friends as friends, so I might unfriend him. Do you think he'll still want to be friends?"

Goddammit, rory, now the word "friend" looks totally freaky and weird to me. Now I'm gonna have to look it up in the dictionary whenever I want to use it to make sure I'm spelling it right, because it's all screwed up in my head.
posted by katemonster at 6:38 AM on November 17, 2009


rory is right -- "befriend" is something you do in real life, not on Facebook.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:56 AM on November 17, 2009


To complete the circle, we need to create a noun from the verb that is "unfriend":

unfriend n. 1. Person who used to be on your social network but is no longer, even though you can't resist finding out what they're doing all the time. I see my unfriend has lots more contacts than me on Metafilter.
posted by Electric Dragon at 6:59 AM on November 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


I thought it was "meh."

And now I think that again.
posted by rokusan at 7:18 AM on November 17, 2009


I hate both locavore and squick. Then again, I am something of a word hater.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:21 AM on November 17, 2009


I find the word useful. It expresses a concept that I'm not sure we could have described succinctly otherwise.

We say "I've lost touch with him" or "We used to be close" or describe someone as "Someone I used to know," but short of the Friends-esque "I'm cutting him off," I can't think of a simple English way of saying "I am making a conscious decision to no longer be friends with this person." Or even, "I am making a conscious decision to acknowledge that this person is no longer within my circle of friends." Sure, it seems to be relegated to the internet, but it is still a useful way to describe an idea.
posted by jefficator at 7:21 AM on November 17, 2009


"It'd be really swell if people needed to be smacked around with a Greek or Latin book or two before being allowed to coin words."

No snark intended, but this sort of statement irks me. We would not be speaking our language if this rule was followed. In fact, if this was the way that language worked, we'd probably not be speaking at all. Just look at your own statement above. Where do those words come from?

It'd - contraction of it and would. When was this word coined?
people - from Latin populus via Old French peupel
smack - probably from Low German smacken "to strike or throw"
word - from Old German wurden

I'm no language expert...I've just grabbed the above from some quick searches.
posted by Kickstart70 at 7:22 AM on November 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sounds like some people are a little bit annoyed about the usage of "teabagger." The OED has no definition for "tea bag" or "teabagger."

"Unfriend" is in the OED, but it is not the modern colloquial usage as discussed on the Oxford UP blog; it is an archaic usage dating to 1275 for the noun and 1659 for the verb, and neither have much to do with this newer word.

So how is "teabagger" even up for consideration? (note that I do think it's a funny and derogatory political term that clearly draws upon polysemic cultural understandings / connotations)
posted by exlotuseater at 7:23 AM on November 17, 2009


I just want to drop in and say that the word I helped spread to the world "vook" is on the list in the Globe and Mail article. Anyway, it's the closest we've been able to get to a FPP on the blue so I will take what I can get.
posted by matthewstopheles at 7:28 AM on November 17, 2009


I use beënemy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:39 AM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


In spanish: "desfriendiar".
posted by signal at 7:41 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Then again, I am something of a word hater.

Ironic how you choose to express that.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:47 AM on November 17, 2009


dislike
posted by bottlebrushtree at 7:55 AM on November 17, 2009


frenemies
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 7:57 AM on November 17, 2009


jesus christ. thank god it wasn't staycation. unfriend is meh, but staycation... fuck that marketing bullshit. they might as well have added the boost mobile invention "un'd."
posted by shmegegge at 8:14 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really wish "squick" had made it, if only for the self-fulfilling humor of having people be squicked out in pursuit of the explanation there-of.

Well, there is always the other explanation for "teabagger".
posted by acb at 8:46 AM on November 17, 2009


I like "unfriend". As a word, it seems so much less loaded than "murder" which was my only other option previously.
posted by quin at 8:52 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was actually holding out for fuckmonster ... and have been since 1972.

There is no noun that cannot be verbed.

Well, I'll be fuckmonstered.
posted by philip-random at 8:53 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


if you can add friends on a service, you're inevitably going to unfriend them to mad drama.

Depends on the culture. In England, people don't so much unfriend each other as stop reading/acknowledging each other's posts. It's presumably a manifestation of the fabled stiff upper lip.
posted by acb at 9:12 AM on November 17, 2009


That Oxford list has "to Google" as word of the year for 1998. I believe that is impossible and now throws the whole list into question.
posted by maggiemaggie at 9:12 AM on November 17, 2009


Shouldn't it be defriend, rather than unfriend? Facebook tip of the hat or not.

Did Amy Winehouse go to an untox or detox to rid her body of toxins? So, she detoxed not untoxed her body.

Did you sign up for yoga to unstress or rather destress to relieve stress?


OTOH, would you go see a movie called the dedead? No, in that instance, the undead is bang on!

My conclusion is that Oxford followed the horror movie naming route and is going Hollywood.
[of course I'm being funny]



While we're at it, could we strike "naturally raised organic environmentally sustainable beef" from restaurant menus and reviews of burgers. Gadzooks.


Now, can I haz favourites? OUCH! lol.
posted by alicesshoe at 9:13 AM on November 17, 2009


I use beënemy.

IMHO, that's a different concept than unfriending. Unfriending is the removal of a positive edge in the social graph, whereas beënemification is the addition of a negative edge (i.e., blocking/banning someone).
posted by acb at 9:14 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Antidisfrenementarianism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:17 AM on November 17, 2009


Shouldn't it be defriend, rather than unfriend? Facebook tip of the hat or not.

Defriend would be the removal of a friend. Unfriend is the undoing of the action of making someone your friend.

de-(noun)

un-(verb)

(but not always)
posted by jefficator at 9:20 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


AWESOME. Now all we need is a word for "a person I don't want to antagonize by unfriending, but also don't want to get updates from, so I filter them out of view."

See also: Facebook's "Hide" feature; TweetDeck's customizable views by user list, et al.
posted by ErikaB at 9:37 AM on November 17, 2009


Now all we need is a word for "a person I don't want to antagonize by unfriending, but also don't want to get updates from, so I filter them out of view."

That guy's name is Victor.
posted by philip-random at 9:42 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


That Oxford list has "to Google" as word of the year for 1998. I believe that is impossible and now throws the whole list into question.

Not impossible: the first recorded usage does date back to 1998, albeit in the progressive aspect ('keep on googling'). That said, I would be surprised if the usage of Google as a verb had really entered the public consciousness by 1998. Maybe the OED folks are web savvier than most, though.
posted by jedicus at 10:06 AM on November 17, 2009


A "locavore" would logically be one who eats places

So it's not someone who eats crazy Hispanic women?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:07 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


adamdschneider - Then again, I am something of a word hater.

ricochet biscuit - Ironic how you choose to express that.

Few people understand the nuances of the grunt in text format.

Past runner-ups that squick me out:
Previvor - n. A person who does not have cancer, but who has either precancerous cells or a genetic mutation known to cause cancer. I understand getting support for something that may happen, but it sounds like you're looking for attention when none is really due. "I totally understand how you feel about chemo, I'm a previvor."

Fishapod - n. a transitional creature, a fish that is still a fish but exhibiting changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals - the name given to Tiktaalik roseae by Time Magazine, BB and the University of Chicago (the folks who found the fossils). It sounds like a lazy portmanteau, where the term could have been something like psaripod (assuming psári is the right word for fish).

Funner - adj. the dumb person's way of saying 'more fun' - kids have been saying this for a long time, but usually they are corrected. Apparently the term has taken hold, enough so that it was a 2006 runner-up. Really?

Pregaming - adj. when underage drinkers consume alcohol before going to clubs or parties where they are officially banned from drinking. - this seems like an odd phrase to embrace. Is smash next?

maggiemaggie, you are quite right. My venting is for naught.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:15 AM on November 17, 2009


Previvor seems to presume that the person will survive.

Pregaming is not limited to underage drinkers in my experience--just people who realize its cheaper to get drunk at home first.
posted by jefficator at 10:20 AM on November 17, 2009


Yeah, I wrote this up for TechCrunch but I can see it would have been a better fit here. Thanks for posting, oneswellfoop. A lot of garbage words there, read my post (an unreliable yet fascinating barometer of tech) for bit more discussion.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:23 AM on November 17, 2009


I use beënemy.

Yeah, I saw them at Metalpalooza. It sucked because they only played stuff from the new album, Hive Hate, instead of the better stuff from last year's Stüng Like a Horse.
posted by rokusan at 10:52 AM on November 17, 2009


It'd be really swell if people needed to be smacked around with a Greek or Latin book or two before being allowed to coin words.

If you smack them around with Green and Latin books, you get this.
posted by kurumi at 12:14 PM on November 17, 2009


de-(noun)

un-(verb)


We deplaned at Albuquerque and were immediately accosted by a group of unfriendlies.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:25 PM on November 17, 2009


de-(noun)

un-(verb)


Ah, yes, but this is noun-as-verb—to unfriend being the opposite of to friend, i.e. to add someone to a Facebook friends list—and therefore the un- is appropiate.

That said, defriend does seem to me to be the better choice, since de- has more of a connotation of removal, but then again, it would also suggest the opposite of befriend, which is more applicable IRL than it is WRT online social networking.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:55 PM on November 17, 2009


As with a lot of other words, this state of being had already been captured by public school slang in India. So you have dost (friend), which you commemorate by rubbing your thumb with your dost's thumb, and you have khattif which is the opposite, and one that you signify by rubbing your little finger with the other person's little finger. Some regions (specifically the south) use the terms jut (= team, hence friend) and jut-piece (=the opposite of 'jut' in a weird Dravidian-English portmanteau).
posted by the cydonian at 2:24 PM on November 17, 2009


de-(noun)

un-(verb)


OK, generally that works, but it falls down when the un- prefix could just as easily have been replaced by the word "not". So "uninvited" describes a state where someone has not been invited, not one where an invitation has been withdrawn. "De-invited" sounds marginally better to me, if you absolutely had to coin a word for that case.

Oddly, though, the word "want" completely rides roughshod over these conventions, because in both cases (not wanted in the first place, and no longer wanted), the term "unwanted" is possible.

Although neither is in fact the correct term, which is "DO NOT WANT."
posted by ZsigE at 3:28 PM on November 17, 2009


but staycation... fuck that marketing bullshit

The staycation is a natural extension of cocooning.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:09 AM on November 18, 2009


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