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I see an increasing demand for an unlike button on Facebook:

I have always used and understood unlike in the sense of dissimilar. Is it ever used in the sense of do not like?

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2  
Dunno'. But it should probably be 'Facebook' (capital 'F', with 'b') in your title, rather than 'faceook'. –  Andrew Thompson Jun 18 '11 at 4:27
    
Thanks @Andrew. Time for me to get a new keyboard, maybe? :) –  rest_day Jun 18 '11 at 4:29
    
"Time for .. new keyboard". Maybe. :-) Good luck with your question. I won't contribute an answer since I am no expert on English, I just use it (poorly). –  Andrew Thompson Jun 18 '11 at 4:47
    
There has been a lot of (ineffective) clamoring for a button that means 'dislike', in the sense of 'I don't like this' or 'I agree this is bad'. I think this is different, though, from undoing the action of 'liking' something, and that's what the 'unlike' action seems to be about. –  aedia λ Jun 18 '11 at 4:54
    
Ultimately this is new ground, since "like" has never been a verb for an instantaneous action (whose effects can be reversed by a different action) before Facebook. –  Random832 Jun 18 '11 at 22:23

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

"Unlike" in this case refers to the fact that you have "liked" this post, and now, due to a change of opinion, you decide to reverse that "like", by "un-liking" the post.

"Dislike" is not used here because "dislike" does not have the same effect that "unlike" has. "Unlike" is used in this case only to remove a "like", but "dislike" has the effect of not only removing the "like" but to actually have feelings of antipathy towards the post.

Putting it in SE style:

You see a post you believe is good, so you give a +1(like). After a while, you change opinions, so you remove your vote(unlike). Then, you think, this post is really bad, so you give it a -1(dislike)

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so it should be un-like? –  rest_day Jun 18 '11 at 3:33
    
Yeah. "Unlike" means differently from "dislike", so "unlike" is more appropriate in this case.:-) –  Thursagen Jun 18 '11 at 3:34
    
@rest_day: "..should be un-like?" I agree it should be 'un-like' (with '-') to make the distinction to 'unlike'<->'dissimilar'. But I doubt we'll get our way. BTW (musing) does 'undissimilar' mean the same/alike? ;) –  Andrew Thompson Jun 18 '11 at 4:51
    
No...won't the un- cancel out the dis-? –  Thursagen Jun 18 '11 at 4:58

In the modern world, and particularly in the world of computers, the un- prefix is increasingly used to denote an opposite or reversing action.

As in install/uninstall, register/unregister, and delete/undelete. Not to mention the undo facility we rely on in many applications.

In short, people quite reasonably expect the Facebook functionality to be called unlike because that follows the pattern they're used to. There's no danger of confusing such terminology with the dissimilar meaning, so why not?

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Unlike and dislike are both existing words in English, and neither of them has the correct meaning. You could call it delike. The prefix de- also means undo (for example decontaminate), although in association with computer actions it's not used as much as either un- or dis-.

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I think one of the reasons we can get away with unlike, and save coining a new word, is the very fact that un- is such a common 'negating' prefix. I'm a fan of neologisms when they help crystalise / popularise subtle concepts. But not just to avoid overloading existing words with additional easily-understood meanings where ambiguity isn't an issue. –  FumbleFingers Jun 20 '11 at 1:07

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