The Oxford Dictionary, as usual, added a new word to the 2009 edition.
It’s not that I have a problem with that. Our language is always changing, and without adding a word a year, we’d be missing out on some pretty key words: muckraking (1906’s word), pizza (1935, thank God!), and karaoke (1979), for example.
It’s the word they chose that I have an issue with: unfriend (definition: to remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook).
Without some of the words added over the years, we’d be lost. “Non-stick” was added in 1927. Before then, what adjective would you have used to describe your cookware that’s pre-conditioned to come clean easily? Without 1998’s addition, what verb would you use when telling someone to search online for something? (“Google” is the word, FYI.) And what would we call those awkward years between about 9 and 12 without the addition of “tween-age” (which, strangely enough, found its way into the dictionary in 1938, long before “tweens” became a recognized age group)?
But un-friend? I’m not so sure. It bugs me that Facebook and virtual “friendships” have become so much a part of our culture that we need to put a word for, essentially, an online break-up into our dictionaries. Then again, maybe people felt the same way about “TV” in 1948 — “How has that electronic picture-box become so important to our society that we need an abbreviation for it?! Why can’t we go see shows in person, or spend our time socializing with real people, not engrossed in imaginary words of our favorite shows?” they must have said.
Honestly, though, what bugs me most (alert, alert: Angela’s about to get anal-retentive right here)? The word is “de-friend,” not “unfriend,” at least based on what I hear people use (and, OK, OK, use myself). And, if I were to use “unfriend,” I’d hyphenate it.”