The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year shortlist for 2020

Nov 30, 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.


noun Colloquial a lifestyle characterised as being rustic or old-fashioned, involving such pastimes as handcrafting, baking, gardening, etc. 



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


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.


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]


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


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.


noun a cumulonimbus which forms above a source of intense heat, such as a bushfire, volcanic eruption, etc.


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.


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

Join the discussion!


Please sign in to post a comment. Not a member? Join Macquarie Dictionary today!

Wendy - Dec. 3, 2020, 1:38 a.m.

short list: noun. A list of especially favoured candidates for a position, promotion, etc., who have been selected from a larger group of applicants.

short-list: verb. To put (someone) on a short list.

* Enter your name:

* Enter your comment:

Wendy - Dec. 3, 2020, 1:45 a.m.

As a proofreader, I use your dictionary every day. In fact, I used it just last week to write this for our newsletter:

A short list of rules
I was editing an article last week and ran across the words short-list and longlist.

My husband says I’m a broken record about this (actually, he says I’m a broken record about quite a lot of things), but I can’t stress enough how important it is to use your dictionary!

Words you might think are one word could actually be two. Or something you might believe is hyphenated could be just one word. Or the noun and verb forms may be different. English is weird like that!

Let’s take a closer look at short list, short-list and longlist to understand why a dictionary is so darned important.

short list: noun. A list of especially favoured candidates for a position, promotion, etc., who have been selected from a larger group of applicants.

short-list: verb. To put (someone) on a short list.

longlist: verb. 1. to select (a candidate) for a first list from which a short list is drawn.
noun. 2. such a list.

See what I mean? It’s short list as a noun, but to short-list someone is hyphenated. And then to throw a monkey wrench in there, you can longlist someone to a longlist. So, let’s play that record again: USE YOUR DICTIONARY!

* Enter your name:

* Enter your comment: