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For more than a decade, the e- prefix has been a popular way to create terms that relate to electronic and Internet-mediated communications. I wrote about this back in early 1999 when the fashion seemed to be at its height. It has moderated since, but new words using it continue to be formed.

E-bandoned, one of the odder creations, has appeared recently, mainly in the UK, where it was coined (or probably re-invented) in publicity linked to Get Online Day on 11 October 2007. The Coventry Evening Telegraph wrote that schoolchildren “are growing up e-bandoned by parents who lack the skills or confidence to help with schoolwork on the web.”

What seemed at the time to be just a neologistic flavouring to help digest a meaty discussion has been used since in a slightly different context, to describe those members of a community who have no computer and no online access — either because they can’t afford them or because they feel unable to learn how to use them.

In all of this chatter, though, it is easy to forget one startling fact: there are, in 2009, 10 million people in the UK who have never gone online, who would not recognise a homepage or a bookmark, for whom http and www are still weird unknowns; they are, to use the inevitable coinages, the e-bandoned and e-solated, a predigital tribe.

The Observer, 25 Oct. 2009.

The term, and its close relatives, the verb e-bandon and the noun e-bandonment, had previously been used for a situation in which a person suddenly stops e-mailing another after a relationship had been established. In 2006, the Urban Dictionary included this as an example of the way in which it might be used: “I bumped into an old college friend and we e-mailed for a while but when I suggested getting together she e-bandoned me.”

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 21 Nov. 2009

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-eba1.htm
Last modified: 21 November 2009.