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The verb favourite or favorite (past tense favourited or favorited) is fairly new and isn't in many dictionaries. Two of the few are Oxford Dictionaries Online, who define it as:

favourite
verb
[with object]
record the address of (a website or other data) to enable quick access in future: you can see who else favourited the same pictures

And Wiktionary:

Verb
favorite (third-person singular simple present favorites, present participle favoriting, simple past and past participle favorited)
1. Alternative form of favor.
1. (Internet) To bookmark.
1. (Internet) To add to one's list of favorites on a website that allows users to compile such lists.

Some people dislike the verb as ugly, others say it's "an abomination of a non-word" and "emblematic of cultural necrosis & linguistic stupidity", but it's commonly used by Flickr, YouTube and Twitter (with 75m, 800m and 200m users respectively) so it doesn't look like it's going to disappear any time soon. There's no entry (yet) at the Oxford English Dictionary, so when was this internet usage first used? Who popularised it and when?


My research:

I suspect it could have been first popularised by Flickr (launched 2004), then later boosted by YouTube (2005) and more recently Twitter (2006).

Favorites were announced by the Flickr photography website in a August 2004 post, but they it only used the word as a noun. The first use I found as a verb on the Flickr blog is September 2005:

In other news, Flickr user fd has a new addition to his fantastic collection of Flickr toys— his random photo browser [...] fetches a selection of random photos that have been favorited by at least one person.

I found a verb use by Eric, a Flickr staff member, in December 2004:

But there are still a couple of bugs at play here: This photo should not appear in GustavoG's favorites, because he does not have permission to view it any more (it being totally private, and Gustavo not being a member of the fotolog group). I am guessing that he favorited it before it was made private. We will fix this.

(Interestingly, in the the bug report he replied to, GustavoG used the verb favored rather than favorited: "This was most definitely not a private page when I favored it.")


Edit: Stack Exchange also uses the verb favorite, and has done since at least 2010. If you click the star on this question then I may getf the Favorite Question badge for a "Question favorited by 25 users." (Or even the Stellar Question badge for a "Question favorited by 100 users.")

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I don't know when it was first used, but I've favorited this question so I can easily come back later and see if anyone has provided an answer. –  J.R. Jan 2 '13 at 16:30
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I think it is funny when people get so animated about neologisms like this. It is very much a "get off my lawn" way of thinking. The plain fact is that English has always been very promiscuous about that kind of thing, and it has allowed us to have the amazingly dynamic language we have. How glorious that nouns verb so easily! English grammar is largely descriptive rather than proscriptive, though there is always a painful transition from street English to the grammar books. Do you have a cite for the two "abomination" and "stupidity" quotes? –  Fraser Orr Jan 2 '13 at 17:39
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@FraserOrr: Those came from one of our very own, earlier today, although it should be noted that the quotes were intentionally dripping with hyperbole. –  J.R. Jan 2 '13 at 17:47

1 Answer 1

IMO, the verb form of favorite would have slowly started becoming popular at around the same time that Microsoft Internet Explorer did. The Wikipedia page for bookmark states:

Bookmarks are called favorites or Internet shortcuts in Internet Explorer, and by virtue of that browser's large market share, these terms have been synonymous with bookmark since the first browser war.

The first browser war took place between 1995 and the early 2000s.

Internet Explorer 1 was a reworked version of Mosaic and was released in 1995. Among its many customisations, the Bookmarks menu was renamed to Favorites.

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+1 for Internet Explorer. That was the first software which came to my mind after reading the question. Not too sure but Netscape might have used this word as well, perhaps even earlier than IE. –  Mohit Jan 2 '13 at 16:56
    
netscape was mosaic .9 in 1994. –  Dan Jan 2 '13 at 18:04
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@Mohit , Dan: Netscape used Bookmarks. –  coleopterist Jan 2 '13 at 18:07
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@coleopterist: Conceivably, that could be one of the underlying forces behind the verbing of favorite; after all, it's not hard to imagine bookmarks : bookmarked :: favorites : favorited. (I don't know why, but using bookmark as a verb seems less egregious than using favorite.) –  J.R. Jan 3 '13 at 9:06
    
@J.R. That, looks like the potential answer. –  Kris Jan 3 '13 at 10:09

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