Meaning of USER-FRIENDLY in English

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 unfriendlyÜ) 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

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