CB029654The verb “unfriend” has been named the word of 2009 by the publisher and editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary. The word is defined as the act of removing someone as a “friend” on a social networking site like Facebook. Christine Lindberg, senior lexicographer for Oxford’s U.S. dictionary program said, “It has both currency and potential longevity. 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.” Other words that were selected as finalists by the dictionary’s publisher, Britain’s Oxford University Press, came from political and current affairs, technological trends, and the economy. In the political and current affairs section, word finalists included “birther,” defined as conspiracy theorists who challenge President Barack Obama’s U.S. birth certificate; and “choice mom,” someone who chooses to be a single mother.

Technology terms included “hashtag,” which is the hash sign added to a word or phrase that allows Twitter users to search for tweets which are similarly tagged; “intexticated,” which is what happens when people are distracted by texting while they’re driving; and “sexting,” or sending sexually-explicit pictures and SMSes by cellphone. Finalist words from the economy section include “freemium,” defined as a business model in which some services are provided free, and “funemployed,” meaning people who are unemployed and using the time off for fun or to pursue other interests. Novelty words that made the shortlist were “deleb,” or a dead celebrity, and “tramp stamp,” which refers to a tattoo on the lower back (usually on a woman).