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  • More shirtfronting!

    Dec 17, 2014 | 0 Comments


    The discussions about shirtfronting still go on, fuelled by the fact that the AND (Oxford Dictionary’s Australian branch) has chosen it as their Word of the Year. But it seems to me that there is still a lot of confusion. This is how I see it.

    Since men have been wearing shirts, they have had this habit of grabbing an opponent’s shirt front and twisting it to express their displeasure. Read more...

  • The frog blog

    Dec 05, 2014 | 2 Comments


    It is the season when the Red Frogs appear again. Their habitat is wherever schoolies might be celebrating schoolies week and they are there to help those who fall by the wayside. Read more...

  • No shirtfronting here!

    Nov 25, 2014 | 1 Comment


    Every now and then the editors of the dictionary are alerted to the existence of a word, or a different meaning of an existing word, which had previously escaped their notice, so all they can do is belatedly catch up with the language. This is not a case of the dictionary being shirtfronted. Read more...

  • Vape schmape!

    Nov 20, 2014 | 2 Comments


    I have been asked to comment on the Oxford Word of the Year which was announced yesterday. My first thought was – surely the year isn’t over yet. I haven’t started thinking about Christmas! The chosen word was ‘vape’.  Macquarie did vaping and e-cigarettes in the Word of the Year selection last year so that isn’t new. Read more...

  • What's in your dictionary?

    Oct 24, 2014 | 4 Comments


    It is odd the way people talk about “the dictionary” – by which they mean that abstraction of the lexicon which they somehow access through whatever particular version and edition they happen to have. Sometimes, this leads to totally unreasonable expectations. Read more...

  • Context can make a word taboo

    Oct 17, 2014 | 0 Comments


    It was said that the principal at a private girls' school had refused to have a sextet as an item on the concert program. Possibly she couldn’t face the thought of the titters that would greet this announcement, and insisted that it had to be a quintet or a septet, but NOT a sextet.

    A musician sharing this piece of information commented that in French the word for sextet is sextuor. Just the smallest typo could make it a spicy item indeed.

  • Should these words go in the Macquarie Dictionary?

    Oct 14, 2014 | 0 Comments


    October 2014

    We've pulled together some more of the interesting words which YOU have recently contributed through our Suggest a word function. Macquarie is currently researching these words to determine their currency within Australian English and to see if they warrant an entry in our end-of-year update. Read more...

  • Mispronunciations

    Oct 02, 2014 | 2 Comments


    It is not uncommon to find that there is a word that you have encountered in your reading but never heard said.  We fill the void in our head with a pronunciation that we have made up, based on our understanding of the rules of English spelling and applying our intuitions as to how the word might be said. Read more...

  • Should these words go in the Macquarie Dictionary?

    Sep 23, 2014 | 1 Comment


    September 2014

    We've pulled together some of our more interesting words which YOU have recently contributed through our Suggest a word function. Macquarie is currently researching these words to determine their currency within Australian English and to see if they warrant an entry in our end-of-year update. Read more...



  • Wine words

    Sep 10, 2014 | 2 Comments


    A hint of something...

    The jargon of wine description is interesting because it is fundamentally so difficult to describe taste. I feel that we are much better equipped to discuss what we see and what we hear. Music terms are fairly standard, with words like allegro and largo being defined by metronome speeds. Read more...

  • Is Cinderella a slut (def. 1 or def. 2)?

    Aug 29, 2014 | 2 Comments


    “The Aldi supermarket chain has removed iconic Roald Dahl children's book Revolting Rhymes from its shelves after complaints from customers about the use of the word "slut". Saffron Howden | The Sydney Morning Herald

     I am surprised by the reaction to this word. I had no idea that it had accrued such taboo status. Certainly the radio presenter that I spoke to this morning felt that, for him, it was up there with the f and c words and he couldn’t bring himself to say it on radio. Read more...

  • Henry Lawson and the Christmas pudding

    Jul 24, 2014 | 0 Comments


    It came as a great surprise to me to find that Henry Lawson hated the Christmas pudding.

    In his short story The ghosts of many Christmases he says:

    And speaking of plum pudding, I consider it one of the most barbarous institutions of the British. It is a childish, silly, savage superstition, it must have been a savage inspiration, looking at it all round – but then it isn’t so long since the British were savages.