2013-09-09 11:16:26       Web Editor: Liu Yan


Welcome to The World According to Words, a program brought to you by China Radio International. I'm your host Liu Yan.


The word I'm going to introduce to you today is -- phubbing. Its definition goes like this:


(clip, phubbing)


Phubbing       noun


The act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your cell phone instead of paying attention.


As you can probably guess, phubbing is a blend of phone and snubbing. The term was coined by a 23-year-old Melbourne resident Alex Haigh. Apparently, he got fed up with how people are always checking Facebook or Twitter on their phones when they are supposed to be interacting with someone face to face. He wanted to put an end to this social phenomenon, therefore he came up with this catchy term.


And catch on it did. The word's earliest media citation dates back to June 2012, and in a little over a year's time, phubbing has already been picked up by almost all the mainstream media outlets one can think of.


Here is a typical example from the British newspaper The Independent. In the article titled The rise of phubbing -- aka phone snubbing, which was published on August 5, 2013, Tom Chatfield writes,


(clip, Tom Chatfield)


There's an uncomfortable truth at the heart of phubbing: other people are easier to handle when encountered on screen. They're less likely to demand unreasonable exertions such as undivided attention or clean shirts.


While the term phubbing has undoubtedly taken off, some people question why it is called phubbing instead of phnubbing. Alex Haigh has not personally addressed the issue, but word has it that phubbing sounds more crispy and thus easier to remember.


And if you ask me, phubbing is also a lot more fun and just begs for wordplay because of its similarity to the notorious F-word. Imagine saying this. Phub off, you phubber. It's phubbing annoying. Doesn't that just roll off the tongue?


Joking aside, phubbing is indeed a universal problem that can no longer be ignored. So why do people keep phubbing each other if they know it's rude? Is there anything we can do to stop it? Or maybe we should just be more tolerant, because sometimes there are legit reasons to phub? Two guests are joining me today in the studio for a bit more discussion, Ding Lulu and Mark Griffiths.



(Studio Discussion) *Note: The discussion part of the show has always been spontaneous, therefore no script is available. Thanks for your understanding.



Thank you very much, guys. But I have to respectfully disagree. I think there is plenty we can do to try and stop phubbing in its tracks.


For starters, we can join Alex Haigh in his Stop Phubbing campaign. Remind our friends and family that phubbing is not appreciated. If necessary, stage a phubbing intervention. We can also make or download some anti-phubbing posters to spread the word in public places. And don't forget that some phubbers simply do not realize the devastating effect their behavior has on others, so be brave enough to confront them, even if you are a total stranger.


And with that, we conclude this edition of The World According to Words. Any comments or suggestions are welcome. You can reach me on Weibo. Just go to and leave me a message. You can also get in touch by email. The address is words at cri dot com dot cn. I'm your host and program producer Liu Yan. Until next time, good-bye.


         claims the copyright of all material and information produced originally by our staff. No person, organization and/or company shall reproduce, disseminate or broadcast the content in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of holds neither liability nor responsibility for materials attributed to any other source. Such information is provided as reportage and dissemination of information but does not necessarily reflect the opinion of or endorsement by CRI.

Hourly News more

The Beijing Hour more
The Beijing Hour updated 20:00 2014/05/23

Highlights more

People In The Know more
2016-04-11 China and Canada: Closer Bilateral Ties Expected 
In this edition of program, we are joined by a Chinese-Canadian senator and a Canadian professor to take a look at the ties between China and Canada.
2016-04-08 Energy Security in Asia 
In this edition of program, we are joined by a scholar and a businessman to take a look at energy security in Asia?

Talk to CRI

The Sound Stage
China Revealed
My Chinese Life
Photo Gallery
Learn Chinese
"In" Chinese
Chatting in Chinese
Pop Culture
Traditional Culture
Living Chinese
Chinese Studio
Chinese Class
Learn English
Special English
Pop Chart
Everyday English
Fabulous Snaps
CRI News  | Xinhua  | People's Daily Online   |  | China Daily  |  Global Times  | China Job  |  China Tibet Online  |  | eBeijing  | Beijing Today  | China-Eurasia Expo  | APEC Yiwu Conference  | Chinese Embassy in S.Africa  | Chinese Embassy in Australia  | Chinese Embassy in NZ