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.

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  • 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...


  • Should these words go in the Macquarie Dictionary?

    Jun 06, 2017 | 0 Comments

    June 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...


  • Mind-bogglingly visceral reactions

    May 23, 2017 | 1 Comment

    We often describe reactions in terms of the effect they have on our bodies, both real and imagined.

    So something that is scary is hair-raising – our hair stands on end, or is bloodcurdling – we imagine our blood solidifying like curdled milk. Read more...


  • The surprising evolution of the -tard suffix

    May 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

    One of the ways in which English expands the lexicon is by using what are called ‘productive’ prefixes or suffixes. These are little working units with an element of meaning which can be attached to the beginning or the end of another word to create a new word. Some of these are very durable while others are fashionable for a moment so that they generate a cluster of new words and then fade away. Read more...


  • Lewis Carroll's coinages

    May 09, 2017 | 2 Comments

    Lewis Carroll contributed some of the most inspirational writing in history to the world. With his remarkable manipulation of language, he captured the imaginations not only of children, but of aspiring writers, readers and everyone else who came in contact with his word. Read more...


  • Should these words go in the Macquarie Dictionary?

    May 03, 2017 | 1 Comment

    May 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...


  • The best thing since sliced bread!

    Apr 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

    We still say it – or at least the older generation does because they are still living in a world where sliced bread is a staple – for toast in the morning, for school lunches. Cutting a crusty loaf yourself is regarded, from that point of view, as some sort of throwback to Neanderthal times... Read more...


  • The shifting sounds of words.

    Apr 11, 2017 | 3 Comments

    The pronunciation that bothers me most is one that I shouldn't really be fussed about at all. It is the shift in the pronunciation of worry which used to rhyme with hurry but now rhymes, more and more, with sorry.

    This word has had various forms and pronunciations in its history in the English language. It started out as an Old English word wyrgan meaning 'to strangle' (from which we got the idea of the dog worrying the sheep, from which we got the notion of feeling upset and anxious). Read more...


  • Should these words go in the Macquarie Dictionary?

    Apr 04, 2017 | 1 Comment

    April 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...


  • Mantle and dismantle

    Mar 24, 2017 | 1 Comment

    A dictionary user has commented ‘I can agree to disagree but if I can dismantle, why can’t I mantle?’ Read more...


  • Mateship and friendship

    Mar 20, 2017 | 1 Comment

    It is my feeling that mateship is a stronger and tougher relationship than friendship, having been forged in adversity.

    The basic sense of friend is a person with whom you have achieved a degree of intimacy that is entirely unfettered by a sense of obligation. Friendship excludes the bonds of affection that are there between blood relations or between lovers. Read more...


  • Should these words go in the Macquarie Dictionary?

    Mar 01, 2017 | 3 Comments

    March 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...