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via: usa today

“Birther ” was in the running, so was “death panels,” but in the end the New Oxford American Dictionary can only pick one word of the year. For 2009, it’s “unfriend,” says the Oxford University Press.

Or in New Oxfordspeak: “unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook. As in, ‘I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.'”

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” notes Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer 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.”

Getting down into the lexicographic weeds, Lindeberg says “unfriend” is different from the norm in the use of “un.”

 

“it assumes a verb sense of ‘friend’ that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!),” says Lindberg. “‘Unfriend’ has real lex-appeal.”

Many of the words under consideration had tech roots,such as “sexting,” the sending of sexually explicit text and pictures by cell phone.

The finalists, by category:

Technology

sexting – the sending of sexually explicit texts and pictures by cell phone

hashtag – a # [hash] sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets (postings on the Twitter site) that contain similarly tagged items and view thematic sets

intexticated – distracted because texting on a cell phone while driving a vehicle

netbook – a small, very portable laptop computer with limited memory

paywall – a way of blocking access to a part of a website which is only available to paying subscribers

Economy

 freemium – a business model in which some basic services are provided for free, with the aim of enticing users to pay for additional, premium features or content

funemployed – taking advantage of one’s newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests

zombie bank – a financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but which continues to operate because of government support

Politics and Current Affairs

Ardi – (Ardipithecus ramidus) oldest known hominid, discovered in Ethiopia during the 1990s and announced to the public in 2009

birther – a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama‘s birth certificate

choice mom – a person who chooses to be a single mother

death panel – a theoretical body that determines which patients deserve to live, when care is rationed

teabagger -a person, who protests President Obama’s tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as “Tea Party” protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773)

Environment

brown state – a US state that does not have strict environmental regulations

green state – a US state that has strict environmental regulations

ecotown – a town built and run on eco-friendly principles

Novelty Words

tramp stamp – a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman

deleb – a dead celebrity

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