Macquarie Dictionary Blog
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Posted on 27 January 2021
Vote now for your Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Decade
What will it be? Which word, from those added to the Macquarie over the last decade, will be chosen as the WORD OF THE DECADE? The shortlist is the collection of words which were selected in each of the years from 2011 to 2020 – both the Committee’s Choice and the People’s Choice. The choice of the Word of the Decade will be entirely up to you, the Macquarie community. There will be no Committee’s Choice. Looking back over the decade’s selections, there are words which captured the serious preoccupations of the time, but also a few that were perhaps less earnest, like onesie, share plate and halal snack pack. The words relating to the environment – fracking and single-use – are still front and centre for most of us, but a few words have petered out over the years. Framily didn’t really take off, and phantom vibration syndrome has completely ghosted the party. There are some that result from a convergence of social issues and social media – Me Too and cancel culture are both social phenomena, but inextricable from the internet, which spread and enabled both. Milkshake duck, which has (surprisingly to some) lasted, and is holding its own, was a comment on the influence of social media, and our engagement with it. Politics has provided some stayers – fake news, captain’s call (the only one that was both the Committee’s and the People’s Choice), and robodebt. And then 2020 provided us with so many new words, thanks to the rona, we had to have two sections. It will be interesting to see if last year still looms so large that the previous years’ words pale into insignificance for the voters. Find the definitions for shortlisted words. Voting has closed! The winner will be announced on Thursday 4th February. Word of the Decade shortlist The Committee's Choice winner is on the left, and the People's Choice winner is on the right. 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Captain's call was both the Committee's and People's Choice this year. 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 In 2020, there was a second category created solely for words related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Posted on 15 December 2020
Cowabunga! Looking back at bodacious 80s slang
The 1980s were Australia's golden age: an era of big hair and big personalities in sport and politics. The 80s were all about making a statement. Aussies did so with language, some of it invented, but much of it borrowed from other English-speaking countries. Below, we’ve compiled some of the more fun and interesting slang coinages. Some big pieces of Aussie slang made their first appearance in the 80s. No less than bogan got its first run in the 80s. Meaning 'fool or idiot' and initially popular among schoolkids, bogan is now a staple of Aussie language. This was also the era when deadly, meaning 'fantastic or cool' and not literally deadly, began to crossover from Aboriginal English into the Australian English lexicon. Like deadly, filth was another way of saying something was bad but meaning it was good: The waves were absolute filth. Then there was the spunk rat, meaning a sexually attractive person. Spunk rat evolved from spunk, which appeared in the 1970s and referred to a good looking person. Other variations included spunk bubble and spunkette. Perhaps due to the cultural dominance of the United States, Australia borrowed much of its slang from the Reagan-era USA. Awesome, bodacious and cowabunga were all borrowed from American English. As was chill out, along with bro and radical. Most of those slang words were first heard in the early 80s and made their way to Australia by the end of the decade. From the Brits, we borrowed bonk – to have sex – recently given an Aussie twist in bonk ban, and snog. I'm not sure whether that says more about Aussies or Brits! Overall, the 1980s was a time of epic slang. The decade also provides a perfect demonstration of the influence of other Englishes on Australian English. If you're an absolute legend, check our Australian Word Map for more local (and quite a few 80s) words and phrases.
Posted on 1 December 2020
Word of the Year category insight | Environment
There are a 15 categories in the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year competition (you can check the full list of words here). Each category consists of five words, with the winner of each category forming part of our shortlist and going in to the running for Word of the Year. In light of the pandemic, we also introduced a special COVID category for 2020. You can read about it here. This year, pyrocumulonimbus is the 2020 Environment category winner. In addition to this, the word has received an Honourable Mention from our Committee. A pyrocumulonimbus is a cumulonimbus cloud which forms above a source of intense heat, such as a bushfire or volcanic eruption. In a year when the pandemic has dominated local and global headlines, we still remember how the Black Summer bushfires left a mark on our landscape, and our language. One other word on the shortlist, black hail, a weather phenomenon caused by bushfires, also has its origin in the bushfire events that began in summer of 2019 and continued through 2020. Check out the other four words in this category and their definitions below. Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. black hail noun dark-coloured hail which results from atmospheric conditions of a firestorm, the airborne soot and ash of the fire mixing with ice particles which form the hailstones. Humpback Highway noun Colloquial either of two marine migration corridors along the eastern and western coasts of Australia, as used by humpbacks moving from Antarctic waters to warmer waters of the north to breed before returning. Also, humpback highway, whalehighway. net zero adjective (of a building) producing an amount of energy, as from a renewable source, which offsets the amount of energy consumed: a net zero apartment complex. Also, net-zero. plant blindness noun a tendency to be unaware of or to ignore the flora in one's immediate environment. [coined in 1998 by US botanists Elisabeth Schussler and James Wandersee]
Posted on 1 December 2020
Word of the Year category insight | Politics
There are a 15 categories in the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year longlist (you can check the full list out here). Each category consists of five words, with the winner of each category forming part of our shortlist and going in to the running for Word of the Year. In light of the pandemic, we also introduced a special COVID category for 2020. You can read about it here. This year, panda bashing won the Internet category. Panda bashing is defined as criticism of a Chinese government policy, action, etc., by another country, especially a western country. Covid wasn't the only thing shaking up our language in 2020. Politics had a big say too, contributing several new words that generated enough clout to make it into the Macquarie Dictionary. Ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement to the halls (and bedrooms) of Canberra, see which other words made the shortlist for this category below. Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. ACAB noun Colloquial (an acronym, often represented numerically as 1312, used to indicate anti-authoritarian sentiment towards a police force, especially in protests against a perceived abuse of power.) [a(ll) c(ops) a(re) b(astards)] bonk ban noun Colloquial (humorous) a policy which prohibits employees within the same organisation from having sexual relationships with each other, especially of government ministers and their staff. [BONK + BAN; popularised in 2018 when brought in as part of the government code of conduct by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull] ecofeminism noun a philosophy, theory or movement which combines principles of feminism with environmental issues. –ecofeminist, noun, adjective Magnitsky act noun a law which allows a government to impose sanctions on foreign individuals, companies, etc., who commit human rights violations and engage in corrupt behaviour, as by freezing their assets and placing bans on entry visas. [named after Sergei Magnitsky, 1972–2009, Russian auditor, who reported a misappropriation of funds by Russian government officials and was subsequently held in custody where he died]
Posted on 1 December 2020
Word of the Year category insight | Internet
There are a 15 categories in the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year longlist (you can check the full list out here). Each category consists of five words, with the winner of each category forming part of our shortlist and going in to the running for Word of the Year. In light of the pandemic, we also introduced a special COVID category for 2020. You can read about it here. The 2020 Internet category winner (and overall Word of the Year) is doomscrolling. In a year when bad news seemed to arrive with every news and social media update, we found ourselves doomscrolling: the practice of continuing to read news feeds online or on social media, despite the fact that the news is predominantly negative and often upsetting. Sounds like fun, right? No! That's why it's called DOOMscrolling and not FUNscrolling. The extra time we spent online this year helped generate a wealth of new words. Check out the four other shortlisted words from the Internet category below. Find out which word was voted the winner in the People's Choice Word of the Year. blackfishing noun Colloquial the practice of a white person pretending to be a person of colour on social media, often for financial gain. [modelled on catfishing (see CATFISH), from the deception practised] finsta noun an additional account on the social media platform, Instagram, which someone creates to share content with select people rather than with the wider public. [F(AKE) + Insta(gram), a social media platform] snitch tagging noun Colloquial (on social media) the practice of tagging a person in a post from which they had originally been excluded because it contained criticism of them. Also, snitch-tagging. –snitch tagger, noun zoombombing noun Colloquial the act of joining a private video meeting while not authorised to do so.
Posted on 1 December 2020
Word of the Year category insight | Colloquial
There are a 15 categories in the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year longlist (you can check the full list out here). Each category consists of five words, with the winner of each category forming part of our shortlist and going in to the running for Word of the Year. In light of the pandemic, we also introduced a special COVID words category for 2020. You can read about it here. This year, sky puppy won the Colloquial. An adorable piece of slang, sky puppy is another name for a bat, especially a flying fox, aww. The Colloquial category was hotly contested during the Word of the Year Committee meeting. See below for the other words the Committee members were cheering for. Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. e-boy noun Colloquial a male member of a social-media youth subculture, influenced by anime, K-pop and other forms of popular culture, with fashion drawing on that of the late 1990s and early 2000s, brightly coloured hair, dark eye makeup and heavy neck chains. Also, eboy. futch noun Colloquial a person, especially a lesbian, exhibiting both butch and femme characteristics. [F(EMME) + (B)UTCH] poggers interjection Colloquial (an exclamation expressing excitement or approval.) Also, pog. [from an emoticon PogChamp used to indicate excitement or surprise on the live streaming site Twitch] spoopy adjective (spoopier, spoopiest) Colloquial of or relating to something generally considered eerie or scary but which has been modified to be humorous: spoopy skeletons dancing; a spoopy movie. [play on SPOOKY]
Posted on 1 December 2020
Word of the Year category insight | Communications
There are a 15 categories in the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year longlist (you can check the full list out here). Each category consists of five words, with the winner of each category forming part of our shortlist and going in to the running for Word of the Year. In light of the pandemic, we also introduced a special COVID words category for 2020. You can read about it here. The winner of the 2020 Communications category is seened. A fresh piece of slang, we defined seened as of or relating to a text message, post, etc., which is registered as having been viewed, but which has not been responded to. Check out the other four words that made up the shortlist for the Communications category. Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. false balance noun a form of bias in which opposing sides of an issue, which are supported by differing levels of reliable evidence, are misrepresented as being equally valid; bothsidesism. lel Colloquial (an abbreviation, originally in digital messaging, used to indicate amusement.) [a play on LOL, which is now considered dated by some younger generations] nowcast noun a report on current weather conditions, or of those forecast in the immediate future.–nowcasting, noun –nowcaster, noun thumb stopper noun Colloquial a news article, comment, image, etc., accessed on a digital device, especially a smartphone, which captures the reader's attention, causing them to pause to read or view it, instead of scrolling to subsequent content. Also, thumbstopper. –thumb stopping, noun, adjective
Posted on 30 November 2020
The Macquarie Dictionary COVID Word of the Year shortlist
The Macquarie Dictionary COVID Word of the Year is rona. The word was chosen from a list of 20 COVID-related words. You can see the shortlist below. Though there are 15 categories in this year's Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year, we decided to create a special COVID category to isolate the huge number of pandemic-related words from the rest our shortlist, which you can view here. Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. boomer remover noun Colloquial (humorous) COVID-19. [BOOMER + remover, with reference to COVID-19's greater death rate among older people] bubble noun a zone comprising two or more countries or states between which people can travel without border restrictions, such as the need to quarantine, especially as established by various governments during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic: a trans-Tasman bubble; a border bubble. Also, travel bubble. contact tracing noun (in epidemiology) the practice of locating people who have been in close proximity to someone diagnosed with an infectious disease, such as an STD, meningococcal disease, measles, coronavirus, etc. –contact tracer, noun convalescent plasma noun plasma taken from someone who has recovered from a disease, the antibody-containing plasma to be infused with the plasma of a person at risk of or suffering from the same disease, thought to boost immunity to or reduce the severity of symptoms of the disease. cough cloud noun the mass of aerated sputum, mucus, etc., expelled by a cough. covidiot noun Colloquial (derogatory) a person who refuses to follow health advice aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19, as by not social distancing, taking part in large gatherings, etc., as well as buying large amounts of perceived staples, especially toilet paper. [blend of COVID-19 and IDIOT] COVID normal noun a way of living in which a community takes precautions against the transmission of COVID-19, prior to the availability of an effective vaccine, as a natural part of day-to-day life. Also, COVID-normal. doughnut day noun Colloquial a day in which zero cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 are recorded in a region. Also, donut day. [so called from the resemblance of a doughnut to the numeral zero] elbow bump noun a tap on someone's pointed elbow with one's own pointed elbow, used as a greeting instead of a handshake, kiss, hug, etc., to reduce the risk of transmission of infection, especially during a pandemic. hub verb (i) (hubbed, hubbing) to form a hub; to be part of a hub: *Starc is thankful he can walk down the street in Adelaide for a coffee while hubbing for the Sheffield Shield. –CANBERRA TIMES, 2020. infodemic noun a situation in which there is such an abundance of information available on a particular subject, that it is difficult to ascertain which is reliable and which is not. [INFO(RMATION) + (PAN)DEMIC] iso- a word element used, often humorously, to form words relating to self-isolation, as in isolationship (a relationship formed during self-isolation), isoreading (reading undertaken during self-isolation). long COVID noun a debilitating condition suffered by a person who has recovered from COVID-19, but who continues to experience a wide range of symptoms, including extreme fatigue, breathlessness, a persistent cough, etc., and sometimes suffers damage to major organs. maskhole noun Colloquial (derogatory) an anti-masker. [MASK + (ARSE)HOLE] quarantini noun a mixed alcoholic drink made at home during a time of enforced social isolation, as during a pandemic, such as COVID-19. [humorous blend of QUARANTINE and MARTINI] R number noun (in epidemiology) the number of people, on average, to whom one infected person will pass on an infectious disease. Also, R value. [R(EPRODUCTION) + NUMBER] rona noun Colloquial COVID-19: we met online during the rona; Rona wrecked their wedding plans. Also, Rona, 'rona, 'Rona. [(CO)RONA(VIRUS)] sentinel surveillance noun the testing of a subset of a population for a particular disease, the results of the sample being taken as representative of the presence or prevalence of the disease in the wider population. Also, sentinel testing. social distancing noun (especially in epidemiology) the practice of maintaining a distance, usually specified by a health authority, between individuals, as a means of limiting transmission of an infectious disease. Also, physical distancing. WFH working from home.
Posted on 30 November 2020
The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year shortlist for 2020
The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year for 2020 is doomscrolling. The word was chosen from a longlist of 75 that was whittled down to 15 by the Macquarie Word of the Year Committee. Check out the 15 words on the shortlist below. For insight into individual categories, see our Word of the Year blog series. In light of the pandemic, this year we also decided to create a COVID category to isolate the many words arising from this global crisis. Go here to find out which word won the special COVID category. Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. adaptive clothing noun clothing which has been designed to facilitate dressing for someone with a physical or intellectual disability, incorporating such features as velcro, different positions for fastenings, special fabrics, etc. Also, adaptive wear. bee vectoring noun a form of crop pest control in which hived bees are used to transport an organic powdered pesticide to any flora they pollinate, the bees having to pass through the pesticide as they leave the hive, with the powder attaching to their fine body hairs. cottagecore noun Colloquial a lifestyle characterised as being rustic or old-fashioned, involving such pastimes as handcrafting, baking, gardening, etc. [COTTAGE + (HARD)CORE] doomscrolling noun Colloquial the practice of continuing to read news feeds online or on social media, despite the fact that the news is predominantly negative and often upsetting. Also, doomsurfing. –doomscroller, noun HIA noun (in sport) a procedure which determines if a player who has sustained contact to the head has suffered concussion, the player being allowed to return to the field if cleared. [h(ead) i(njury) a(ssessment)] inclusion rider noun a clause in the contract of an actor, filmmaker, etc., which specifies a level of diversity to be met in the project's staffing, especially in relation to gender, race, sexuality and disability. Karen noun Colloquial (pejorative) (a term used predominantly to refer to a middle-class white woman, often of generation X, who is regarded as having an entitled, condescending and often racist attitude.) [Karen being a common name of this generation] lo-fi adjective (of wine) produced with minimal processing or intervention. [modelled on HI-FI; generalised from specific music context, with sense of simplicity, low intervention, etc.] panda bashing noun Colloquial (derogatory) criticism of a Chinese government policy, action, etc., by another country, especially a western country. –panda basher, noun profit-for-purpose adjective of or relating to a business which directs a portion of its profits towards a specific area of social or environmental welfare: a profit-for-purpose organisation; the profit-for-purpose sector. pyrocumulonimbus noun a cumulonimbus which forms above a source of intense heat, such as a bushfire, volcanic eruption, etc. seened adjective Colloquial of or relating to a text message, post, etc., which is registered as having been viewed, but which has not been responded to. sky puppy noun (plural sky puppies) Colloquial a bat, especially a flying fox. stalkerware noun a type of spyware which a person installs on another's smartphone or other digital device, usually without the user's knowledge or consent, through which the installer can remotely monitor the user's location, communications, search history, etc. Also, creepware. suicide first aid noun emergency mental health support given to a person who is seen to be at risk of taking their own life, until the services of a professional can be obtained. –suicide first aider, noun
Posted on 11 November 2020
Word of the Year 2020 from around the world
At the Macquarie Dictionary, we are preparing to announce which word survived the battle royale of 2020 to come out on top as Word of the Year. Cancel culture claimed the crown in 2019, while Me Too took the top prize in 2018. Although we can't go there, I can confirm that the rest of the world still exists and that dictionaries from around the globe are announcing their Word of the Year winners. Collins have announced their Word of the Year as lockdown. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic looms large in their shortlist, with coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolate and key worker all making their final selection, while furlough, a British government scheme similar to the Australian Jobkeeper program, also made the list. It’s no surprise that quite a few of the words on Collins Word of the Year 2020 shortlist have one big thing in common: the pandemic. Something that changed everyone’s lives so profoundly – leaving no country or continent untouched – was bound to have a significant impact on our language. BLM, MEGxit, TikToker and mukbang rounded out their shortlist. Mukbang featured on the Macquarie Dictionary shortlist for the 'internet' category in 2019. The Australian National Dictionary Centre have announced their Word of the Year as iso. Not only is iso distinctively Australian in usage, it has also been linguistically productive by combining with other words to form compounds such as iso baking, iso bar, iso cut, and iso fashion. Once again, COVID loomed large in the selection with Covid-normal and bubble (as in travel bubble) making their shortlist alongside Black Summer and driveway, a reference to the ANZAC Day vigils Australians took part in as a replacement for the usual ANZAC Day dawn services. Dictionary.com have named their Word of the Year as pandemic. From our perspective as documenters of the English language, one word kept running through the profound and manifold ways our lives have been upended—and our language so rapidly transformed—in this unprecedented year. That word is pandemic, our 2020 Word of the Year. We will keep this blog updated as announcements roll in from other dictionaries, including the Australian National Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Oxford Dictionary, the American Dialect Society and more.
Posted on 26 May 2020
3500+ new words in the 'Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition'
More than 3,500 new entries have been added to the new, Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition. The words reflect changes in our usage of Australian English since the Seventh Edition was published in 2017. Below is a selection of these new words which reflect changing perspectives of our language. Our inclusion of environmental words reflects the strong public consciousness of environment and sustainability issues in recent years. Two new words included in the Eight Edition include climate strike and eco-anxiety climate strike noun a protest against lack of action on climate change, held within school or work hours. eco-anxiety noun feelings of distress and fear brought on by the effects of climate change. Indigenous words have also gained prominence in recent times. Macquarie Dictionary recently published new ebook guides to several indigenous languages. Scar tree and ngangkari are examples of some of the new words related to Indigenous language and culture that are included in the Eighth Edition. ngangkari (say 'ngung-guh-ree) noun an Indigenous practitioner of bush medicine; healer. [Pitjantjatjara: literally, traditional healer] scar tree noun a tree of southern and eastern Australia which has had sections of bark or wood removed as part of traditional Aboriginal activities, often for the construction of shelter, watercraft, containers, etc. To round off our preview of the Eighth Edition, let's look at a couple of Macquarie Word of the Year winners. Described by the committee as a term that captured the zeitgeist of the year, cancel culture was crowned 2019 Word of the Year. cancel culture noun the attitudes within a community which call for or bring about the withdrawal of support from a public figure, such as cancellation of an acting role, a ban on playing an artist's music, removal from social media, etc., usually in response to an accusation of a socially unacceptable action or comment. Also, call-out culture, outrage culture. 2018 Word of the Year, Me Too still resonates around Australia Me Too adjective 1. of or relating to the Me Too movement: Me Too posts on social media. 2. of or relating to an accusation of sexual harassment or sexual assault, especially as having occurred at some time in the past and which has since remained undisclosed. –verb (t) 3. to accuse (someone) of having committed sexual harassment or sexual assault, especially in the past: to be Me Tooed. Also, me too, Me-Too, me-too. Lastly, something a little lighter. We think the Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition has plenty of BDE: noun Colloquial a sense of self-confidence, unaccompanied by arrogance or conceit. Also, big dick energy. [from the supposed self-assuredness possessed by a man with a large penis] These examples represent a tiny portion of the new words included in the Eight Edition. With a beautiful cover design and an updated understanding of Australian English, we know the Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition will sit proudly alongside its predecessors.
Posted on 2 December 2019
Macquarie shortlist of words of the year | Arts and Literature
There are a whopping fifteen categories in the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year longlist (you can check the full list out here). Each of these categories is comprised of five words, which is a lot of new content and new words to learn! These are whittled down by our Committee to just fifteen words that you can choose from in the People's Choice Word of the Year 2019. Before you vote, have a look at this highlight of just one of those categories. Take a look at what the words mean, where they come from and take a minute to tell us what you think of them. The arts and literature are a huge source of new words, for example with writers creating new coinages (like Lewis Carroll to throw it back a ways) that get picked up for wider use. This year, the words have origins from fan fiction to adult entertainment to (gasp!) government. One of these words is silkpunk, which is modelled on cyberpunk, and joins a host of other -punk genres such as biopunk, solarpunk and steampunk. Another word on the list is sensitivity message, which has a similar definition to trigger warning. Trigger warning went in to the Macquarie Dictionary in 2015 and was part of the Word of the Year shortlist for 2015. silkpunk noun a subgenre of science fiction which draws on Asian history and culture for setting and aesthetic. [SILK (in reference to the SILK ROAD) + PUNK, modelled on CYBERPUNK] Prepare yourself for The Ascent to Godhood, the fourth book in JY Yang's silkpunk Tensorate series, a wide-ranging, imaginative, engaging playground that the New York Times lauded as "joyously wild." www.angusrobertson.com.au I’m not sure how to describe this book. Others have described it as silkpunk (it’s not), Asian fantasy (kind of but not really), or some sort of epic thingy (that’s not written in the style of an epic at all). www.amazon.com.au sensitivity message noun a message appearing on a website, in a publication, etc., warning the reader of possibly culturally sensitive content, such as images of deceased persons; used especially in material relating to Indigenous peoples. Also, sensitivity notice. Sensitivity Message: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander material may be culturally sensitive for some individuals and communities. slq.qld.gov.au Sensitivity Message - PLEASE READ THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATIONIt is a condition of use of the Pathways website and AIATSIS catalogue that users ensure that any disclosure of the information contained in the website or the catalogue is consistent with the views and sensitivities of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. AIATSIS There are three other words that form part of the Arts & Literature category for Word of the Year. We have Mary Sue, ethical porn and beta reader to round out the group. You can find the definitions for these words as well as our longlist on our Word of the Year page. The shortlisted word from this category for 2019 is of course, silkpunk. You can find more information on the shortlist and vote here.