Posted on 5 July 2022

Five possible new words for July

We may be in the depths of winter, but the new words are still running hot! In fact, our first new contender is for a source of heat you don’t want to be anywhere near. It’s gigafire: a fire that burns between 100,000 and 1 million hectares. With global warming causing increasingly extreme weather events, researchers have had to coin new terms to categorise bushfires by their destructiveness, and gigafire is one such term. We turn from hot to cool with our next word, drip. It’s already a headword in the dictionary, obviously, but there are a few emerging slang senses that aren’t in yet. If someone has drip (or the drip) they’re stylish; drip can also refer to stylish clothes or accessories themselves; people and things can drip and they can be drip – so there’s a whole suite of new senses relating to stylishness across the most common parts of speech! You may or may not have drip, but hopefully you don’t have a phone bone. If you’re aware of some of the seedier senses of bone, it might sound raunchy, but it’s very much not – it’s an actual bone spur that forms on the back of the skull, caused by the stooped posture associated with phone use. Two more words to round out July. First, skin hunger, a faintly creepy term for the desire for loving or friendly physical contact with another; second, tuxedo cat, a cute term for a black cat with white markings on its chest and paws, resembling a person wearing a tuxedo. Do you think these new words should enter the Macquarie Dictionary? Let us know!  
Posted on 1 December 2021

Word for Word #43 Word of the Year 2021

In this, the final episode of season 6, we join the Word of the Year Committee to discuss which word was crowned the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2021, the selection process and other words from the short list. Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it.  You can also explore the 'additional links' below to discover what new words and definitions have been on our editor's minds in recent months.  Subscribe now on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon or your favourite podcast app to get the latest episode delivered direct to your inbox.   Words & Definitions
  • brain tickler
  • brick-bait
  • Delta
  • dignity suit
  • dry scooping
  • dump cake
  • front-stab
  • hate-follow
  • humane washing
  • last chance tourism
  • menty-b
  • NFT
  • porch pirate
  • range anxiety
  • shadow pandemic
  • sober curious
  • strollout
  • third place
  • wokescold
  Additional links Word of the Year 2021 Word of the Year 2021 Shortlist Suggest a Word Word for Word episode #29 Word of the Year 2019 Word for Word episode #37 Word of the Year 2020   Acknowledgements Word for Word is produced by Macmillan Audio Australia for Macquarie Dictionary and Pan Macmillan Australia.  Music used in this episode is by Broke For Free, available from the Free Music Archive and used by permission of the artist. Find more music by Broke for Free including The Gold Lining; and If. Our logo is by Amy Sherington. All sound effects and clips are public domain, royalty-free, or used by permission. If you like Word for Word, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts! It only takes a minute and it helps other people discover the show.  
Posted on 21 September 2021

A ruby-dazzler of an anniversary

Forty years ago, on 21 September 1981, the first edition of Australia’s national dictionary, the Macquarie Dictionary, was launched. A green and gold cocktail was invented for the occasion (see recipe below), the room was festooned with wattle, and eminent historian, Manning Clark, carried out the launching honours. The vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, Professor Edwin Webb (below left), made a short speech before asthmatically fleeing into the night, away from the wattle, to which he was highly allergic.    Copies of the new dictionary were pored over, favourite Australianisms were looked up, cries of 'It’s in!' were heard throughout the evening. After all, this was a fully descriptive dictionary, containing the gamut of Australian English. The publishing director, Dan O’Keefe, had gone through the pages just before the dictionary went to print, looking for running heads (those bold guide words at the top of each page) that could be offensive to more delicate readers. The usual suspects were checked. The page with cunt-struck (also discussed back in 2015 after an appearance on Four Corners) as a running head was adjusted slightly to bring the more innocuous headword cup back, and so become the running head. However, much to Dan’s chagrin, one of the discoveries of launch night was a running head in a usually innocuous part of the dictionary – what could possibly be offensive around mother? Mother-fucker – that’s what. The Macquarie Cocktail (Green and Gold)
  • Brut champagne
  • 1 tbsp mango juice
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • Dash of Grand Marnier
  • Whole strawberry, leaves attached, floating (the ‘green’ aspect)
  • Mint (optional additional ‘green’ aspect)
In the intervening forty years, the Macquarie Dictionary has continued to describe our language, warts and all. The internet has made research both easier and more difficult – it’s now a very different ballpark to the days of circling words in a newspaper or novel, jotting down (on the back of a chequebook!) words heard in conversation, on the bus, on radio and TV, then waiting for more citations to come in until finally judging a word to be well-used enough to be included in the dictionary. There have been complaints about the inclusion of words referring to truly horrible racist, sexist, sleazy opinions and acts. As long as these are current in the community they will continue to be part of the dictionary, just as they are part of Australian English. Naturally, these words carry warnings in the form of labels and usage notes indicating their offensive nature. The Macquarie Dictionary in 1981 contained about 80,000 headwords. The Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition, published in 2020, had nearly 110,000. The Macquarie Dictionary online has more than 130,000 headwords. The language is constantly changing and Macquarie continues to keep a finger on its pulse.  You can keep in touch with us across social media, as well as in our podcast, Word for Word. And feel free to suggest words for the next edition by submitting them through our website.
Word of the Day
Posted on 17 August 2022


Opposition to inquiry and enlightenment.