Macquarie Dictionary Blog
Posted on 27 January 2021
The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Decade shortlist
The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Decade is a celebration of Australian English. The shortlist below features the good, the bad, and the sometimes baffling winners of the last ten Word of the Year competitions as selected by our Committee and as voted for by you. Check out the shortlist below to see how our language has changed in the past ten years. Which words stuck with you? Which words have fallen out of favour with you? There are twenty-one words in total, so take your time and don't forget to vote for your Word of the Decade! burkini noun a swimsuit designed for Muslim women, comprising leggings and a tunic top with a hood. Also, burqini. 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. captain's call noun a decision made by a political or business leader without consultation with colleagues. 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. 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 fake news plural noun disinformation and hoaxes published on websites for political purposes or to drive web traffic, the incorrect information being passed along by social media. first world problem noun a problem that relates to the affluent lifestyle associated with the First World, that would never arise in the poverty-stricken circumstances of the Third World, as having to settle for plunger coffee when one's espresso machine is not functioning. fracking noun (in oil and gas mining) a process by which fractures are made in rock by the application under pressure of chemically treated water mixed with sand to natural or man-made openings in order to gain access to oil or gas supplies, considered by some to be associated with groundwater contamination; fracking. framily noun (plural framilies) Colloquial a group of people who are not related by blood but who constitute an intimate network. halal snack pack noun a fast food comprising layers of hot chips, grated cheese, halal doner kebab meat, garlic sauce, barbecue sauce and chilli sauce. infovore noun a person who craves information, especially one who takes advantage of their ready access to it on digital devices. Karen noun Colloquial (derogatory) (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.) mansplain verb Colloquial (humorous) (of a man) to explain (something) to a woman, in a way that is patronising because it assumes that a woman will be ignorant of the subject matter. Me Too adjective 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. milkshake duck noun a person who is initially viewed positively by the media but is then discovered to have something questionable about them which causes a sharp decline in their popularity. onesie noun a loose-fitting one-piece suit, usually of a stretch fabric, gathered at the wrists and ankles and loose at the crotch. phantom vibration syndrome noun a syndrome characterised by constant anxiety in relation to one's mobile phone and an obsessional conviction that the phone has vibrated in response to an incoming call when in fact it has not. Also, phantom phone vibration syndrome. robodebt noun a debt owed to the government by a present or past welfare recipient, arising from an overpayment of benefits calculated by an automated process which compares the recipient's income as stated by them to the government with their income as recorded by the taxation authority, a notice of discrepancy being automatically generated. Also, robo-debt. rona noun Colloquial COVID-19: we met online during the rona; rona wrecked their wedding plans. Also, Rona, 'rona, 'Rona. share plate noun a serving in a restaurant designed as multiple small portions so that several diners can share the same dish. single-use adjective intended for disposal after only one use: single-use plastic bag; single-use cup.
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 25 January 2021
Aussie Word of the Week
2020, am I right? Well, we aren't going to sit around and wait for another year to clobber us, and we aren't going to get sucked in to a doomscrolling vortex either, no way. Together we will shirtfront 2021! Shirtfronting is an act of intimidation, whether confronting someone aggressively and indignantly with a complaint or grievance, or literally grabbing them by the lapels. Made famous by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, shirtfronting is usually confined to the sports field, rather than Parliament house. In Australian Rules football, shirtfronting is when you shoulder charge an opponent with the intention of knocking them to the ground. In cricket, a shirtfront refers to an extremely smooth pitch that favours batters over bowlers. Yes, that means I could get shirtfronted and land on the shirtfront. 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 18 January 2021
Check out that Darwin-rig
Aussie Word of the Week
Fashion! It never goes out of style, that's why this week's Word of the Week is the Darwin rig, more commonly known as a Territory rig. The rig is the peculiar formal dress used in the Top End by men. Essentially, as it is so hot in the Top End, there is no need for a jacket. Territorians replace the tie and collared shirt with an open-necked shirt, and swap out long trousers for shorts and long white socks. Thongs, stubbies and T-shirts are not required. Classy. This blog has featured Aussie fashion words many times over the years. We have even written about underwear. We just can't help ourselves. Fashion even makes up one of the fifteen categories in our Word of the Year competition. In 2020, the words on the fashion longlist were quite different from the Darwin rig. The list included adaptive clothing, a type of clothing which has been designed to facilitate dressing for someone with a physical or intellectual disability; French tuck: a style of dressing in which the front portion of a shirt, T-shirt, etc., is tucked into the waistband of a skirt or trousers with the rest of the top hanging loose, and period underwear: underpants designed to absorb menstrual blood and prevent leakage, comprising multiple layers which act to wick moisture away from the body, with an impermeable outer layer. With 2021 well under way, we look forward to seeing what's fashionable in Aussie wardrobes this year. 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 11 January 2021
Buy a ticket to the cow-pat lotto
Aussie Word of the Week
This week we are buying tickets to the cow-pat lotto, a form of lottery in which a cow is placed in a pristine paddock which has been divided into squares which are numbered and raffled off. The winner is decided by the fall of the first cow-pat. While waiting for the plop to drop so to speak, we got thinking about other cow related slang words, and oh boy did we find a whole herd of them. To chase up a cow is to find a dry spot outdoors, usually with sexual intentions. In contrast, calling someone a cow is to call them a contemptible person. In fact, calling someone a miserable cow has been part of Aussie slang since the 1890s! Cow confetti is a euphemism for bullshit, while in cricket a cow shot is a stroke made without style or discrimination. Overall, it seems that cows get a bad rap in Aussie slang. Even a fair cow was early twentieth century slang for something distinctly unpleasant. Now, let's check on that cow-pat, I've got my ticket ready. 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 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
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 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 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 | 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]