Time to "Unfriend" Oxford's Word of the Year?

More

"Unfriend" is the Word of the Year from the Oxford University Press, beating out nominees like paywall, funemployed and sexting (OMG OUP!). Adrian Chen points to the last five winners -- 2005: podcast; 2006: carbon neutral; 2007: locavore; 2008: hypermiling -- and concludes "these are all just hacky trend pieces from that year." Well, yes. You have rediscovered the purpose of electing a word of the year.


Merriam-Webster's words of the year are also verbal synecdoches of the year's trends -- bailout in 2008; subprime in 2007; 9-11 in 2001 (I mean, come on, that doesn't even have letters in it). At least M-W samples equally from politics, technology and pop linguistics-- Not! was 1993's choice. Oxford is a straight-up barometer of tech trends. Its words are basically just a proxy for the year's biz-tech advancements.

On a closing note, I'd like these organizations to offer two words of the year: One that everybody uses, and another that everybody should use. My nomination for 2009 (and really, the whole decade) is portmanteau, which is a word that blends two words. Increasingly the English language is coming to resemble the fundamental law of matter that mass exists in a closed system and nothing is created or destroyed, only reassembled. Sexting, blog, funemployed. The sporkification of the English language knows no end.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to a Seaside Town in Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where the Wild Things Go

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Adults Need Playtime Too

When was the last time you played your favorite childhood game?

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In