Macquarie Dictionary


Dusting off the Macquarie archive

With the Macquarie staff back in the office along with thousands of other workers across Australia, we rediscovered some things we missed while working from home. This includes the Macquarie archive: several bookshelves stuffed with decades of dictionaries, manuals, slang guides and even film reels.

We selected three titles from these dusty shelves to investigate further. They are the Macquarie Office Manual, the Macquarie Dictionary of Australian Colloquial Language, and the Macquarie Dictionary of Motoring.

Yes, believe it or not, way back in 1986 Macquarie published a dictionary of motoring terms that covered everything from car parts to the hundreds of individual models either manufactured or available for purchase in Australia. The book included full colour photographs. It was quite a feat really, with the introduction boasting that the dictionary was ‘’by far the most complete and readable reference work of its kind.’’

Sadly, one part of the introduction to the Motoring Dictionary is no longer true. Back in 1986, Australia was a major manufacturer of cars, which is no longer the case. All the same, the Macquarie Dictionary of Motoring offerings a fantastic window into Australia’s history of manufacturing and continued love for cars.

Stepping out of the driving seat and into the office, we also discovered the Macquarie Office Manual, an essential reference for every Australian office! Covering everything from office etiquette to postcodes and a guide to how the Government works, our 1993 contains gems such as:

“Most North Americans dislike hotel rooms…”

“It is becoming more common for women to offer their hands during business introductions…”

Office culture might have moved on but according to Macquarie Dictionary Managing Editor Victoria Morgan the manual was successful ‘and found in every office.’ Kind of like a workplace equivalent of the famous Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management.

Finally, we discovered the Macquarie Dictionary of Australian Colloquial Language, a precursor to several slang dictionaries Macquarie have since published. Published in 1984, chunks of the book are no longer acceptable in polite company, or in any company, but it was fascinating to see how Australian slang has changed in the past forty years, particularly in comparison with Macquarie’s Australian Word Map.

We’ll be sure to bring you other quirky books we find as we rediscover the Macquarie archive.


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