The verb "unfriend," which refers to the act of deleting someone from one's list of acquaintances on Facebook, has been named the New Oxford American Dictionary's "Word of the Year." In making the selection, NOAD's editors look for terms that enjoy both a strong current popularity and a potential for longevity. Past picks have included "podcast" (2005) and "blogger" (1998). Is "unfriend" a worthy choice, or just a lexicological flash in the pan? (Watch Dr. Laura field an "unfriend" question while walking her dog, Bebe)
"Unfriend" is an uninspired pick: It's an "ugly word," says Richard McManus on ReadWriteWeb. "For that reason it shouldn't be Word of the Year." Besides, the word doesn't have much value for non-Facebook users: "I don't think my Mum or Dad would be familiar with the term."
"Unfriending: Are people online shedding friends?"
At least it wasn't "sexting": You're lucky the NOAD picked "unfriend," said Devin Coldewey at Crunchgear. The runners up are "groaners". Can you really see "intexticated," "sexting" or "funemployed" lasting long, let alone the "infernal bird-based jargon" of Twitter users? Compared to those, unfriend is a "worthy choice" and "one for the ages."
"Word of the year an unreliable but fascinating barometer of tech"
It's just a marketing stunt: Word of the Year? How about "Scam of the Year," writes Adrian Chen at Gawker. Just look at some of the previous winners, such as "locavore" in 2007 and "carbon neutral" in 2006. This award is just an "excuse" for bloggers and journalists to rewrite "hacky trend pieces" from that year. It's nothing but a "silly marketing ploy" for the NOAD.
"The Oxford University Press word of the year is a huge scam"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How I dug myself out of debt — and stayed that way
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- 6 super-helpful iOS8 tricks you probably don't know about
Subscribe to the Week