Arts & Life


It has been decreed by the word mavens at The New Oxford American Dictionary that the 2009 word of the year is�

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BLOCK: Unfriend�

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BLOCK: �as in to remove someone as a friend on a social networking site such as Facebook. Christine Lindberg is senior lexicographer at Oxford University Press and she says unfriend is actually not a new word.

Ms. CHRISTINE LINDBERG (Senior Lexicographer, Oxford University Press): The OED provides one citation for it dated in 1659. The essence of the meaning has not changed very much.

BLOCK: It's just the platform has shifted somewhat.

Ms. LINDBERG: The platform has shifted dramatically. But I think it's a remarkable resurrection. In a way, I look at unfriend as the Sleeping Beauty of 2009 words or since I'm from upstate New York, I should probably say�

BLOCK: I know where you are going�

Ms. LINDBERG: �the Rip van Winkle.

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Ms. LINDBERG: But neither Beauty nor Rip slept as long as friend did.

BLOCK: Now we should say unfriend beat out a whole bunch of other contenders for word of the year. Sexting - just define what sexting is.

Ms. LINDBERG: Well, as we've defined it in our press release, it is the sending of sexually explicit text and pictures by cell phone.

BLOCK: Okay. It also beat out birther.

Ms. LINDBERG: It did, which is loosely a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama's U.S. birth certificate.

BLOCK: And one of my favorites, tramp stamp.

Ms. LINDBERG: It's one of my favorites too, thank you. And that is a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman.

BLOCK: That's Christine Lindberg with news of The New Oxford American Dictionary's word of 2009: unfriend. And Robert, let's not forget that the word of 2008 was�


Who could forget, hypermiling: to maximize gas mileage, push gas tank to the limit.

BLOCK: And for 2007, it was locavore: somebody who eats locally grown food.

SIEGEL: And in 2006, it was two words: carbon neutral.

BLOCK: Uh-huh. And in 2005, podcast, which really seems so, just utterly 2005.

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SIEGEL: This is NPR National Public Radio.

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