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A representation of phubbing, showing two people with one on a smartphone

Phubbing is a term coined as part of a linguistic experiment by Macquarie Dictionary to describe the habit of snubbing someone in favour of a mobile phone. In May 2012, the advertising agency behind the campaign, McCann, had invited a number of lexicographers, authors, and poets to coin a neologism to describe the behaviour. The word "phubbing," a portmanteau of phone and snubbing, was first described by McCann Group Account Director Adrian Mills, who was working with David Astle.[1] The term has appeared in media around the world and was popularized by the Stop Phubbing campaign created by McCann.[2]

Stop Phubbing campaign[edit]

The Stop Phubbing campaign site, and related Facebook page, was part of an elaborate public relations effort designed to promote the Macquarie Dictionary of Australia.[3] In the media, the website was originally credited by an Australian college student named Alex Haigh, who had been interning at McCann and was subsequently hired.[4] A film, titled A Word is Born, describes the entire process and serves as an advertisement for the dictionary.[5]

Phubbing in the media[edit]

The campaign was picked up by numerous media outlets, notably those in the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Germany. The press reported on surveys showing statistics of the number of the people "phubbing", and published etiquette guides.[6][7]


In October 2015, media outlets (such as TODAY[8] and Digital Trends[9]) reported on a study by James A. Roberts, professor of marketing at Baylor University Hankamer School of Business, that was published in the journal "Computers In Human Behavior". The study consisted of two separate surveys of more than 450 U.S. adults to learn the relational effects of "phubbing" or partner phubbing. The survey found that 46.3 percent of respondents said their partners phubbed them, and 22.6 percent said it caused issues in their relationship.[8] In an interview with Yahoo! Health, Roberts said, "We found that the ones that reported higher partner phubbing fought more with their partner and were less satisfied with their relationship than those who reported less phubbing."[9]


  1. ^ "The first use of the word phubbing". YouTube. 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  2. ^ "Stop Phubbing". Stop Phubbing. Archived from the original on 2013-10-11. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  3. ^ Pathak, Shareen (2013-10-07). "McCann Melbourne Made Up a Word to Sell a Dictionary | News - Advertising Age". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  4. ^ Tom Chatfield (2013-08-05). "The rise of phubbing - aka phone snubbing - Features - Gadgets & Tech". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  5. ^ "Phubbing: A Word is Born". YouTube. 2013-10-08. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  6. ^ Hogan, Michael (2013-09-13). "The 15 most annoying things about iPhones". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  7. ^ Steinmetz, Katy (2013-08-06). "Why the 'Stop Phubbing' Campaign Is Going Viral |". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  8. ^ a b Meghan Holohan (October 1, 2015). "Does your partner love his cellphone more than you? Take this survey". TODAY. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Lulu Chang (October 3, 2015). "What is phubbing, and is it ruining your relationships?". Digital Trends. Retrieved October 4, 2015.