defriend/unfriend (2001)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Mar 14 17:16:29 UTC 2013

The latest OED updates include the social-media senses of "defriend"
and "unfriend", but the entries only take them back to 2005. They were
both in use on LiveJournal (referring to removing someone from one's
"friends list") in 2001:

"On Friending," Noël, LiveJournal, Oct. 1, 2001
Please note, defriending you does not mean I suddenly hate you or
think less of you or that I'm no longer your friend/acquaintance, etc.
I have people I know in real life who aren't on my friendslist, and
conversely I've had real life friends unfriend me because they have no
idea what I'm talking about. ...
I do not do knee jerk retaliatory de-friending. (Nor do I
moan/bitch/complain if I've defriended your "Friends Only" journal and
you've removed me-- obviously that makes sense.) If you unfriend me, I
may or may not unfriend you.

I cited this when "unfriend" was named New Oxford American
Dictionary's Word of the Year for 2009:


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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