Susan Butler, Editor
The words that a language community chooses to use end up being, collectively, a mirror to the changes that are happening around us. The task of the dictionary is to keep track of these changes as one way of recording our culture. This blog will allow me to note the detail of language change as it happens, analysing current use and perhaps following a thread into history. I hope that it will be an important preliminary to decisions that are made about what should go into the dictionary.

Search to find blog posts
  • Have a magical Halloween

    Oct 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

    This Halloween, we're thinking about one of our favourite suffixes, -mancy. Meaning 'divination', there are many fascinating words depicting the craft of what is in some cases very specific forms of fortune telling. These are largely older words, but we've picked a few of the best. Let us know of any new words (we've got our eye on technomancy and lexicomancy is starting to look pretty good too) that relate to divination. Read more...


  • Should these words go in the Macquarie Dictionary?

    Oct 03, 2017 | 0 Comments

    October 2017

    We are always on the lookout for new, emerging and interesting words to add to the Macquarie Dictionary. In a time of global instant communication, these words are popping up faster and in vaster quantities than ever before. Read more words from October 2017 here...


  • Reshaping borrowed words in English

    Sep 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

    English borrows from many languages, but it has more trouble digesting some borrowed words than others. Of late we seem to have taken on board many more words from Japanese, mostly to do with food and drink. Read more...


  • Is it a field or a paddock? Defining the contemporary Australian landscape.

    Sep 12, 2017 | 2 Comments

    The early European settlers had much to find words for in the Australian landscape and their choice was either to borrow from Aboriginal languages (kangaroodingobudgerigarcoolibah) or take a word from British English, often British dialect, and stretch the original meaning to the new shape (wattlecreekmagpiepaddock). Read more...


  • Another bout of un-Australian

    Sep 07, 2017 | 1 Comment

    It’s been a while since a politician has resorted to branding their opponents as un-Australian but we had an instance of it recently with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton applying it to pro-bono lawyers defending refugees. It has to be said that he was prompted to do it by radio broadcaster Alan Jones but he took it up willingly enough. Read more...


  • Should these words go in the Macquarie Dictionary?

    Sep 04, 2017 | 0 Comments

    September 2017

    We are always on the lookout for new, emerging and interesting words to add to the Macquarie Dictionary. In a time of global instant communication, these words are popping up faster and in vaster quantities than ever before. Read more...


  • When do words borrowed into English become English?

    Aug 25, 2017 | 2 Comments

    You would think that the answer to this would be ‘after a suitable period of time’. For example, table comes from tabula, borrowed into Old English from Classical Latin. Read more...


  • Should these words go in the Macquarie Dictionary?

    Aug 03, 2017 | 0 Comments

    August 2017

    We are always on the lookout for new, emerging and interesting words to add to the Macquarie Dictionary. In a time of global instant communication, these words are popping up faster and in vaster quantities than ever before. Read more...


  • One person, two people, three persons, four?

    Jul 20, 2017 | 1 Comment

    A dictionary reader asked about the distinction between persons and people, both indicating plurality but having different connotations.

    If we start with the etymologies of the two words we can see that they are coming from different directions... Read more...


  • Should these words go in the Macquarie Dictionary?

    Jul 03, 2017 | 2 Comments

    July 2017

    We are always on the lookout for new, emerging and interesting words to add to the Macquarie Dictionary. In a time of global instant communication, these words are popping up faster and in vaster quantities than ever before. Read more...


  • Celebrating language for NAIDOC Week

    Jul 03, 2017 | 0 Comments

    This NAIDOC Week, we're celebrating by sharing some fun facts around the many different Aboriginal languages and cultures in Australia. Read more...


  • Language that is blue – or green – whatever you fancy

    Jun 08, 2017 | 0 Comments

    The different meanings of colour words normally flow from their basic sense and are self-evident.

    Blue for the old-fashioned washing powder came about because it turned blue in water. A blue for a sporting award came about because the ribbon with which the person or animal was draped was blue. Read more...