Five new words for May

May 02, 2022
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It’s the start of May, so here’s your monthly helping of new words that may enter the Macquarie Dictionary!

Up first is a new word from the internet that has already been circulating in the media: goblin mode, a pattern of behaviour characterised by an embrace of indolence and slovenliness. It is apparently epitomised by the cat in this video. We’re unsure why goblins have been made the face of what is quintessentially human behaviour, though…

Next up is prebunking, the practice of addressing false information before it is published. You’d be right to guess that it’s a play on debunking, but did you know that the bunk in debunk is a shortening of bunkum? And that bunkum itself, meaning ‘insincere talk’, was coined after a member of the US House of Representatives made an infamously tedious and irrelevant speech in 1820 on behalf of his constituents in Buncombe County, North Carolina? It’s quite the derivation!

Another contender is spillback. When COVID-19 jumped from animals to humans, it was an instance of spillover. But now that it’s been spreading far and wide in the community, we face the risk of spillback: humans infecting other species with the disease. You may have heard of huge spillback outbreaks of COVID-19 in mink farms overseas, for example.

Let’s round things out with two new colloquialisms: graff, a shortening of graffiti, and swerve, a transitive verb meaning ‘to avoid or ignore’, as in ‘I think he’s swerving me’.

Over to you – do you think any of these words should be in the Macquarie Dictionary?

goblin mode - a pattern of behaviour characterised by an embrace of indolence and slovenliness.

graff - graffiti.

prebunking - the practice of addressing false information before it is published.

spillback - an instance of a virus affecting humans becoming transmissible to a species of animal.

swerve - to avoid or ignore someone.


Join the discussion!

4 Comments

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Elaine - May 8, 2022, 4:31 p.m.

How do you prebunk something before it is known about (presuming "published" means "known in the community")?


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Laurie - May 10, 2022, 11:37 a.m.

Certainly, SWERVE needs to be in the dictionary. I've been SWERVED by a group I was a member of, and their justification, pretty much, was "It SWERVES you right!"


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Esme - May 10, 2022, 1:16 p.m.

Pre-bunking definitely has a place in the lexicon. Should be more of it in election campaigns!


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Annie - May 10, 2022, 6:39 p.m.

The first time I heard "graff" must have been 20 years ago, and I was not cool enough to be an early adopter. That should be added to the graffiti entry at least.


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