The Word of the Year

Each year, the New Oxford American Dictionary picks a “Word of the Year.”  Each year, Oxford tracks how the English language is changing, and chooses their word of the year “to reflect the ethos of the year and its lasting potential as a word of cultural significance and use.”

In 2004, Merriam-Webster selected the word “blog,” while Webster’s New World Dictionary went with “overshare” in 2008, inspired by the habit of spewing too much personal information on social networking sites and blogs.

Last year, Oxford’s word was “hypermiling” – i.e., the act of conserving gasoline by making fuel-saving changes to one’s driving habits.

This year, two of the runners-up were:

1. “intexicated” – the state of being distracted while driving and texting at  the same time.
2. “zombie bank” – a financial institution still operating, even though its liabilities are greater than its assets.

Well (drum roll, please), the winner this year is “unfriend,” which is a verb meaning “to remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.”

Facebook spokeswoman Meredith Chin said that “overall, we’re thrilled that the idea of people connecting, or even unconnecting, with each other on sites like Facebook has officially become part of the lexicon.”

Well, it made me sad that “flicking somebody off the boat” is the word of the year.  The act of eliminating a bond, a connection, a relationship (as superficial and petty as these so-called human bonds are on the web) is a sad thing to represent as the American English word of the year.  It certainly doesn’t elevate our society.  Instead, it mostly reminds me of high school cliques, where kids are excluded on the basis of some temporary, competitive, mean state of mind.

I guess I’m just sad that a negative rules as Word of the Year instead of:

* Congenializing - making nice even when the situation is unpleasant.
* Sexifying – using fluttering eyelashes and a swish of the hips when women alluringly ask their husbands to take out the trash.
* Politisizing – being nice when you really want to pop someone in the nose.

Those are just some of the words I’m going to nominate next year!