Geek Trivia

Which Of These Commonly Used Internet Terms Was First Used In A Similar Context Back In The 17th Century?

A Clever 1960s Prank Convinced Swedes They Could Watch TV In Color With?

Answer: Unfriending

The modern and common use of the word “unfriend” as a verb, as in “I unfriended Steve after he posted pictures from his bachelor party on my wall so that my boss could see them.”, came to prominence with the rise of Facebook as a social media platform—alongside the use of “friending” as a verb to describe adding someone to your friends list on the service.

The first use of “unfriend” as a verb dates back to the middle of the 17th century, however, where it was used by Thomas Fuller to indicate the loss of friends. An example, as used by Fuller, is: “I Hope, Sir, that we are not mutually Un-friended by this Difference which hath happened betwixt us.”

It clearly embodied the modern meaning long before the verb would be used within the context of the internet and virtual lists of friends even existed (the first known internet usage is in a conversation on Usenet dated to 2003).

Image by Frederick Hendrik Kaemmerer, “Le Dispute (The Argument)”.