Macquarie Dictionary Blog
Posted on 5 January 2021
Five new words to start the year right
Happy new year! It's time to finally say farewell to 2020 (check out our Word of the Year(s) here) and welcome 2021! Each month, we look at a few new words that have piqued our interest and been submitted by you, our readers, for consideration. From doom boom (2020 may be over, but we're still dealing with the consequences) to pollotarians and the creative art of scifaiku. Which ones do you think should go in the Macquarie Dictionary? Let us know if you have any other suggestions. We are always happy to hear new words, no matter how big or small a usage they may have. Be sure to vote for some of these when we post them on our Instagram stories. See other words suggested to the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 4 January 2021
Heading down to the bowlo
Aussie Word of the Week
This week we are closing up shop early on our suburban shopping strip and heading across the road to the bowlo for a few schooners and a game of lawn bowls. Chiefly an Eastern states word, bowlo is short for bowling club. Aussies love pubs and clubs, and why not? You'll find just about everything you need at the local club: a feed, a drink, a meat raffle, and of course a ragtag cover band belting out 80s hits over a dodgy sound system. So what if the carpet is a bit sticky and has one of those patterns that is definitely hiding something, we still book our kid's birthday party at the RSL: the Returned and Services League club or rissole if you like. The RSL has a long history in Australia. First appearing in 1916 as the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia, the organisation grew out of the spirit of camaraderie and concern for the welfare of fellow servicemen during and after World War I. As with the RSL, many Aussie clubs are associated with societal groups, especially sports clubs. Leagues clubs are any of various clubs run by bodies associated within the Australian Rugby League competition, offering food, drinks, entertainment, and other services to members, such as funding junior teams. These are also a particularly fun place to be if your team has just won the Grand Final. Add to this a variety of clubs set up by the various immigrant communities who call Australia home, like the Polish Club in Sydney's inner west, and it's clear how much we love our clubs! Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 21 December 2020
Christmas slang coming down your chimney tonight
Aussie Word of the Week
Ho ho ho, this week we are gearing up to welcome a certain big man in a red suit. That's right, this week's Word – or should I say, person! – of the Week is Santa Claus. The Macquarie team have been especially good this year. We made lists of new words and checked them twice, many of them were naughty but a few were nice. One word was so nice we choose it as our Word of the Year. With Santa Claus busy prepping his sleigh for the big night, we did some digging around our slang database and discovered that Old Father Christmas shares his name with a plant part. In New South Wales and Queensland, Santa Claus is a slang term for the fluffy airborne seed of various plants, such as the moth vine or Scotch thistle. Perhaps due to the way their white fluffiness resembles his beard, these seeds are called a Father Christmas in South Australia. Less festive names for these fuffy seeds include a wish, a fairy, and a robber. Now, off to bed! Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 21 December 2020
Top ten blogs for 2020 by Macquarie Dictionary
It's been a long, strange and unique year. One that the Word of the Year summed up pretty well in doomscrolling. But aside from that, we've also been busy writing and reading about all things lexicographical, including spelling, grammar and of course, new words. So take a look back at the year that was with our top ten blogs for 2020:
- The Word of the Year 2020 shortlist and the COVID Word of the Year 2020 shortlist
- Six beautiful words (from our series on words we think are beautiful)
- How to talk about COVID-19
- Different ways to talk about toilet paper
- 3500+ new words in the Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition
- New words to watch (part of our series on new words submitted for consideration to Macquarie Dictionary)
- Some new words from Kim Scott, author and writer of the foreword for the Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition
- A piece of Aussie slang: smoko
- Binary and non-binary gender words
- The usage of the word 'alot'
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 14 December 2020
Unwrap our festive Word of the Week: Secret Santa
Aussie Word of the Week
'tis the season for holiday slang. This week's Word of the Week is Secret Santa. Taking place in offices and homes across the nation, Secret Santa is a ritual by which a group of people exchange gifts at Christmas, each person giving a present to one other randomly selected member of the group, the gifts being limited to a certain price. Also known as Kris Kringle, as in I don't know what to get Sharon for a Kris Kringle present, this traditional Christmas game is played with different rules from group to group. In most versions, you draw a name from a hat and buy a gift for one person only. In another version, you bring a – usually humourous – gift which goes in a big pile of presents. You then draw a number and pick presents in numerical order. Everyone except the person who goes first is allowed to steal a present from another, but no single present can be "stolen" more than once. Getting the good gift requires expert timing and a touch of bastardry. Which version of Secret Santa or Kris Kringle do you play? Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
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.