Dictionary makes 'unfriend' word of the year

November 19, 2009 5:48:40 AM PST
Many years ago there was a very successful ad campaign for the "un-cola." It sold lots of pop. Now there is another "un" word in the news and it's raising lots of questions. The word is "unfriend.""Unfriend" has nothing to do with traditional friendly relationships. It's all about "friends" on those social networks like Facebook, or test friends, or Twitter pals. And now unfriend has been named the word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary. It's a verb and it means to remove a friend on a social network.

Professor Craig Sirles of DePaul University studies languages and doesn't like the word but says it could be around for a long time, but he said beside that not to worry about it.

"I don't think this is a death knell at all for the English language," Sirles said. "I think what it does is it reflects a very, very popular cultural phenomenon that's going on among the 12 to 30 set."

And Sirles said that's O.K.

"Well, they are the prime movers and shakers of the English language at least in terms of innovation," Sirles said.

There's no doubt understanding "unfriend" has a lot to do with age.

"I remember when my 4-year-old grandson used to say, 'You're not my friend anymore' if I did something I didn't like. He could have just said he was unfriending me," Joan Brown said.