NEW YORK, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The publishers of the New Oxford American Dictionary said in New York that the 2009 Word of the Year, "unfriend," was inspired by Facebook.
The Oxford University Press said unfriend, a verb, is defined as: "To remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook."
Christine Lindberg, senior lexicographer for Oxford's U.S. dictionary program, said the word was chosen because of its potential to become a lasting part of the U.S. lexicon.
"It has both currency and potential longevity," Lindberg said. "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. Most 'un-' prefixed words are adjectives (unacceptable, unpleasant), and there are certainly some familiar 'un-' verbs (uncap, unpack), but 'unfriend' is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of 'friend' that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!). Unfriend has real lex-appeal."