Meaning of -FRIENDLY in English


combining form (Environment) (Science and Technology) As the second word in a hyphenated adjective: either adapted, designed, or made suitable for the person or thing named in the first word or safe for, not harmful to what is named before the hyphen. Hence as a free-standing adjective (often qualified by an adverb): accessible or harmless, non-polluting. Etymology: Formed on the adjective friendly, after the model of user-friendly in computing. History and Usage: One of the most popular ways of forming a new adjective in the late eighties, especially in consumer advertising and writing on environmental issues, -friendly has its roots in the extremely successful late-seventies coinage user-friendly (the history of which is described under that heading). By the early eighties the computing metaphor was being extended to users of other types of product, sometimes simply as an extension of user-friendly itself, but sometimes substituting a new first word (reader-friendly, listener-friendly, etc.); the gobbledygook of legal drafting was replaced in some legislation by clear, understandable language and this was described as citizen-friendly. It was also in the early eighties that the second branch of meaning started to develop, with the appearance on the scene of environment-friendly (causing little harm to the environment, ecologically sound); this also gave rise to a stream of imitative formations, notably ozone-friendly (see ozone), Earth-friendly, eco-friendly (see eco-), and planet-friendly. In the second half of the eighties both branches of meaning grew steadily and became somewhat confused, as new formations arose which did not follow the original pattern. In the sense to do with accessibility and ease of use, for example, the term computer-friendly (used of a person, a synonym for computerate or computent (see the entry for computerate) with a nuance of willingness as well as ability to use computers) seemed to turn the tables: the person was now friendly to the computer, rather than the other way round. On the environmental side there were formations like greenhouse-friendly, in which the basic meaning 'not harmful to' had been extended into 'not contributing to the harmful effects of' in a potentially confusing way. The fashion for formations in -friendly has also led to the use of hyphenated adjectives in which the -friendly part means no more than 'friendly' in its usual sense (see the example for Thatcher-friendly in the quotations). There were also grammatical confusions when -friendly started to be used as a free-standing adjective. From the late seventies, friendly was used as a free-standing word in computing as a synonym for user-friendly. As -friendly became more and more popular, some sources started to print the compounds with no hyphen between the two words; what is essentially an abbreviated dative phrase 'friendly to...' was then interpreted as an adjective qualified by a noun, and this was 'corrected' to an adverb, giving forms such as environmentally friendly (see environmentally). There were even some examples in which two adjectives were used together, in environmental friendly etc. (presumably transferring the adjective from environmental friendliness). Friendliness, with a preceding noun, and with or without a hyphen, can be used to form noun counterparts for most of these adjectives, but environmental friendliness co-exists with environment-friendliness. Companies' requirements for computer-friendly personnel fluctuate dramatically. The Times 3 Mar. 1987, p. 21 Non-food products such as 'environment-friendly' detergents...may not be as widely available. Which? Jan. 1989, p. 27 Listener-friendly tunes...take him close to Michael Jackson in tone and delivery. Guitar Player Mar. 1989, p. 12 Mitsubishi mixes high performance and environmental friendliness in its new Starion 2.6-litre turbo coup÷. Financial Times 4 Mar. 1989, Weekend FT, p. xxiv Young people are displaying a lot of behaviour and some attitudes which are Thatcher-friendly. Listener 4 May 1989, p. 4 It argued that nuclear power had a role to play in a 'greenhouse friendly' electricity supply industry but that this role should not be exaggerated. Financial Times 18 July 1989, p. 18 Nearly 4,000 products are being analysed according to user- and environment-friendliness in a study sponsored by property developers Rosehaugh. Sunday Telegraph 13 Aug. 1989, p. 2 On the grocery shelves, garbage and trash bags of all sizes, once the scourge of the environment, now come with planet-friendly certification. Los Angeles Times 4 Feb. 1990, section E, p. 1 Another well-advanced initiative...involves the production of a sterilized sewage and straw compost, a process which disposes of two major pollutants at once, turning them into earth-friendly products which are good growing materials. The Times 24 Mar. 1990, p. 45

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