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The Oxford Dictionary of New Words

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user-unfriendly, unhelpful to the user; not user-friendly; also as a noun user-unfriendliness.

Etymology: Formed by adding the prefix unto friendly: see -friendly.

History and Usage: The idea of this kind of unfriendliness arose from the success of the term user-friendly in the world of computing: see the history given under that heading and at -friendly. Searching for a word to serve as the opposite of friendly in this sense, some people chose hostile (see under user-friendly) and others preferred unfriendly. In general, unfriendly was the more successful and productive choice (especially as a combining form) in writing on environmental issues since about the middle of the eighties, while -hostile

enjoyed almost equal success in computing. Unfriendly presented some of the same grammatical problems as -friendly, especially when printed without a preceding hyphen: as a free-standing adjective it could not be combined with another adjective to

form a compound, so the parallel form environmentally unfriendly developed alongside environment-unfriendly.

One of the most popular general-purpose benchmarks is the Sieve of Eratosthenes, probably the most user-unfriendly title in the business.

Byte Feb. 1984, p. 160

A useful document for anyone campaigning on the ozone issue or wishing to avoid ozone-unfriendly packaging.

Green Line Oct. 1988, p. 5

Chemical reactions take place...transforming...'friendly' non-destructive chlorine and bromine into an 'unfriendly' radical form that destroys ozone.

Boston Globe 23 Jan. 1989, p. 30

Denmark, which also has strict environmental regulations, heavily taxes environment-unfriendly products.

Chemical Week 6 Sept. 1989, p. 30

ungreen adjective (Environment)

Of a person: not concerned about the environment (see environment°); of a product or activity: harmful to the environment, not ecologically aware.

Etymology: Formed by adding the prefix unto green, an adjective which would not normally have an opposite.

History and Usage: An inevitable development of the green revolution, ungreen first started appearing in print in the second half of the eighties and quickly became established. In political life grey has also been tried as the opposite of

green, but it is less transparent in meaning and so perhaps unlikely to be taken up in popular use.

It [BAT industries] is one of the three biggest tobacco companies in the world...The trouble is that its core business is in the ungreen area of cigarettes.

Guardian Weekly 30 July 1989, p. 23

It is the worst example of an ungreen commercial development in Britain; a concept of the seventies with a fundamental purpose of maximising private investment at the expense of the environment.

Green Magazine Dec. 1989, p. 12

uniquely abled

(People and Society) see abled

unleaded adjective (Environment)

Of motor fuel: not containing added lead.

Etymology: Formed by adding the prefix unto leaded.

History and Usage: Unleaded motor fuel has been available since the sixties, but did not really come into the news in the

UK until the late eighties, when motorists were actively encouraged to have their vehicles converted to use it. This encouragement, which included price incentives, arose from the high profile of the green movement and widespread concern about the effects of pollution on the atmosphere: unleaded fuel produces less harmful exhaust emissions and reduces engine deposits. This kind of fuel is also called lead-free (see

-free); both adjectives can be used on their own, as though they were nouns meaning 'unleaded fuel'.

Reader offers...included free weekend breaks, the prize of a house in France and the post-Budget free offer to convert readers' cars to unleaded petrol.

Today 12 Mar. 1990, p. 2

Running a car will cost you more this year--but if you're 'environment-friendlier' the change won't hit as hard. Duty on petrol went up by about 10 per cent--an extra 11p per gallon for leaded petrol, 9p for unleaded.

Which? May 1990, p. 249

The chain claimed its petrol is now Britain's cheapest at 198.7p a gallon for four star unleaded.

Sun 20 Oct. 1990, p. 2

unsafe adjective (People and Society)

Of a conviction or verdict at law: open to appeal, liable to be challenged or overturned. Especially in the phrase unsafe and unsatisfactory.

Etymology: Formed by adding the prefix unto safe in its legal sense, which is in turn related to the more general sense 'sure in procedure, not liable to fail'.

History and Usage: This term has been in use in the law for many decades, but acquired popular currency in the late eighties, especially as a result of the controversy over the allegedly unsafe convictions of a number of people for terrorist crimes in the UK in the seventies. In the case of the 'Guildford

Four', four people convicted of IRA bombings at Guildford and sent to jail in 1975, the discovery that the convictions were in fact unsafe eventually led to their release in October 1989. This case helped to suggest a distinction between unsafe and unsatisfactory: in the opinion of the Appeal Court judges, the convictions were unsafe because they were founded on a

prosecution case which was later shown to have been unreliable (evidence vital to the defence had been suppressed and false confessions obtained). The convictions therefore had to be quashed regardless of whether they were unsatisfactory (in other words, without regard to the original question of the guilt or innocence of the people concerned). In his judgment, Lord Lane said:

Any evidence which casts real doubt on the reliability or veracity of the officers responsible for the various interrogations has to mean that the whole foundation of the prosecution case disappears, and the convictions will be unsafe.

However, this distinction was once again questioned in the courts in early 1991 in connection with the appeal and eventual release of the 'Birmingham Six' (another group of people jailed for terrorist bombings in the seventies), and the legal

conclusion seemed to be that no court had ever separated the two entirely and that the distinction between them might anyway be impossible to draw.

The manner in which the inquest was conducted by the coroner...made the jury's verdict...unsafe and unsatisfactory.

Financial Times 30 Mar. 1983, p. 14

While agreeing that the verdict was unsafe and unsatisfactory, he said that the judgment made no finding about whether the new evidence justified the conclusions of deliberate fabrication.

Guardian 18 July 1989, p. 24

unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (Environment) see Alar

unwaged noun (People and Society)

Of a person: unemployed, not currently earning a wage. Often as a collective noun, in the form the unwaged: unemployed people and non-earners considered as a group.

Etymology: Formed by adding the prefix unto waged; the adjective unwaged had existed since the sixteenth century in the sense 'not recompensed with wages' (of work), but was not applied to people until the early eighties.

History and Usage: This is a term of the eighties which has often been interpreted as a euphemism for 'out of work', but which is actually designed to recognize the contribution and financial difficulties of other groups (such as full-time mothers) whose work goes unpaid in our society.

The cost will be œ2 per line for waged persons or œ1 per line for those who are unwaged.

Library Association Record (Vacancies Supplement) 30 Nov. 1982, p. cxlviii

Dream analyst Sophia Young's workshop is at the Koestler Foundation, 484 King's Road, World's End, Chelsea on June 23, from 2pm to 6pm. It is free to the unwaged,

and œ3 for others.

Guardian 19 June 1990, p. 21

21.3 use-by date...

use-by date

noun phrase (Lifestyle and Leisure)

A date marked on a food package or other perishable goods (usually preceded by the words 'use by') to show the latest time by which the contents should be used to avoid risk of deterioration.

Etymology: Formed by compounding: the date by which the

contents should be used.

History and Usage: Use-by dates have been in use on food packages in the US since at least the beginning of the eighties, and started to replace best before dates in the UK in the middle of the decade. The use-by date is considered less ambiguous than a best before date in that it sounds more imperative (implying that the food will not only be less enjoyable after the date,

but could actually constitute a health risk). For this reason, stricter legislation on the use of use-by dates was proposed in the UK in 1990 as part of a range of measures designed to allay public fears about food safety in the late eighties.

The food is delivered the day it is made and marked with a 'use-by' date four days from preparation, although unsold items are pulled two days after being delivered to the kiosk.

Washington Post 17 Feb. 1985, section K, p. 5

New legislation is to be introduced to replace sell-by dates with more helpful use-by dates.

Which? Apr. 1990, p. 205


adjective Also written user friendly (Science and Technology)

Easy for the user to operate; designed with the needs of the non-technical user in mind. Also, displaying a customer-conscious image; emphasizing public relations.

Etymology: Formed by adding the combining form -friendly to user; such systems are meant to display a friendly attitude to the user rather than perplexing him or her with complicated instructions and cryptic error messages.

History and Usage: User-friendly was a coinage of the late seventies which started purely as a computing term to describe systems which incorporated a user interface geared to the needs of the non-specialist. As such, it became one of the computing buzzwords of the early eighties, ever-present in computer advertising and reviews. Within five years it had proved so

successful in summing up the whole concept of accessibility to the ordinary person that it was already being applied in a variety of other contexts outside computing. This transferred sense itself developed further in the mid and late eighties, with the -friendly part being interpreted more literally again (especially in advertising), so that in some contexts it now means no more than the literal sum of its parts, 'friendly to

the user/customer'. The same is largely true of the

corresponding noun user-friendliness. The model of user-friendly has given rise to a multitude of other formations ending in -friendly: these are described under the heading -friendly. The success of user-friendly created the motivation for an adjective which would describe the opposite characteristics, those of inaccessibility and inscrutability for users: in the early

eighties both user-unfriendly (see unfriendlyý) and user-hostile developed in this sense and also soon became popular outside computing.

Every computer manufacturer now claims its products are 'user friendly'.

Which Micro? Dec. 1984, p. 3

'They should never be placed near flammable materials, and damaged bulbs should be cooled at least five minutes before they can be changed safely.' With such user-hostile tendencies, it's not surprising that

fixtures recently became available with heavier bases and glass shields to protect both the consumers and the bulbs.

Chicago Tribune 20 Sept. 1987, section 15, p. 3

Claimants were not getting paid. On top of everything else, the sytem was user-hostile. It took a long time to input information, and it was even harder to retrieve.

Best's Review Jan. 1989, p. 90

It's so user-friendly that you can adjust it to suit any player.

CU Amiga Apr. 1990, p. 11

A trip to the user-friendly Brandywine Zoo is also a good idea for an outing.

Delaware Today July 1990, p. 47



vaccine noun (Science and Technology)

A program which protects a computer system against being attacked by malicious software such as a virus or worm.

Etymology: A figurative sense of vaccine; an extension of the virus metaphor, moving on one step further than infect.

History and Usage: This is a usage of the late eighties, used at first in the names of individual antivirus programs, but soon

extended to the group as a whole. The metaphor is also extended to derived forms such as vaccinate and vaccination.

The vaccine program scans data and program files and triggers an alarm if operating instructions or data have been modified...Other vaccines screen the commands that programs send to the computer's operating system...Researchers have taken several approaches to block virus entry or 'vaccinate' computers so that users are notified when a virus is at work.

New York Times 30 May 1989, section C, pp. 1 and 9

Valdez Principles

noun phrase (Environment)

A set of guidelines, drawn up in the US in 1989, which is designed to regulate and monitor the conduct of corporations in relation to the environment.

Etymology: Formed by compounding: part of the name of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez, which ran aground off Valdez in Alaska and spilled millions of gallons of oil into Prince William Sound in March 1989, combined with principles (because these were environmental principles which were already being considered and were finally agreed as a direct result of the disaster).

History and Usage: The Valdez Principles started as an environmental charter drawn up by CERES (the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies), an organization representing American environmentalists and investment groups. It existed in draft form early in 1989, before the Exxon Valdez disaster had occurred, and acquired the name Valdez Principles among CERES staff as soon as it became clear that this was to be one of the US's worst environmental disasters and one from which corporations promised to learn lessons about environmental responsibility. This colloquial name was made official when the

Principles were publicly announced in September 1989. The Valdez Principles themselves deal with broader issues than the problems raised by the oil spillage: they cover protection of the

biosphere from pollutants, sustainable use of renewable resources, the reduction and safe disposal of waste, energy conservation, the health and safety of employees, the marketing of environmentally sound products and services, compensation for victims of pollution, freedom of information about hazards, and provision for audit procedures.

Information about whether a company has signed a pledge to follow the Valdez Principles will be disseminated to shareholders.

Newsday 7 Sept. 1989, p. 77

Ecologist Barry Commoner sees the beginning of a revolution in the idea of 'corporate responsibility' and the 'Valdez Principles',...introduced by a coalition of environmental organizations and investment groups.

Boston Globe 22 Apr. 1990, p. 28

Valspeak noun (Youth Culture)

A variety of US slang which originated among teenage girls from

the San Fernando valley in California and was later taken up more widely by youngsters in the US.

Etymology: A contraction of Valleyspeak, itself formed from the Valley of San Fernando Valley and -speak 'language', modelled on George Orwell's Newspeak and Oldspeak in the novel 1984.

History and Usage: Valspeak, the language of the Valley girl, originated at the end of the seventies and was popularized under this name--or as Valleyspeak, Valley talk, or Valley Girl talk--from about 1982 onwards, especially by Frank Zappa's daughter Moon Unit. It is characterized by frequent repetition of certain 'filler' words (especially like and totally),

emphasis on a small group of adjectives of approval or disapproval (see awesome, rad, tubular, and grody), abbreviation of words to a single syllable (see, for example, max), set

phrases such as grody to the max and gag me with a spoon, and a dizzy, giggly, schoolgirl style of delivery.

On the record, in pure, uncut Valspeak, Moon laments in bubbly staccato that, 'Like my mother like makes me do the dishes. It's like so gross.'

People 13 Sept. 1982, p. 90


(Science and Technology) see -ware

22.2 VCR


abbreviation (Lifestyle and Leisure) (Science and Technology)

A video cassette recorder. The abbreviation is also used as a verb: to record (a television programme) on video.

Etymology: The initial letters of Video Cassette Recorder.

History and Usage: Sales of VCRs reached the one million mark in the US in 1981, heralding the beginning of a video boom. The abbreviation VCR became widely used in the US at the beginning of this boom, but is less well known than video in the UK. Even though it is an abbreviation in which all the initials have to

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