MELISSA BLOCK, host:
It has been decreed by the word mavens at The New Oxford American Dictionary that the 2009 word of the year is�
(Soundbite of trumpet)
(Soundbite of trumpet)
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.
(Soundbite of laughter)
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�
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
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.
(Soundbite of music)
SIEGEL: This is NPR National Public Radio.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.