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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.–nowcastingnoun –nowcasternoun 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 stoppingnounadjective