The Committee's Choice & People's Choice for Word of the Year 2020

Posted on 7 December 2020


What is the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year

Once a year, at Macquarie Dictionary HQ, we get together with a select group of people with a mind to decide on a single Word of the Year for the year that has passed. We look at all the new words and new definitions that have entered the Macquarie Dictionary in the past year.

Our editors create a longlist of 75 words (you can check them out here) split into different categories (some of which we have discussed in our blogs here).

Because COVID-19 has so deeply affected every aspect of life in 2020, it was a foregone conclusion that a word related to the pandemic would be the Word of the Year. So we’ve done things a little differently – Macquarie has selected two Words of the Year for 2020! One from the non-pandemic side of life, and one from the hefty vocabulary introduced by our collected dealings with COVID.

People's Choice Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2020: Karen

In 2020, Karen has proved to be a strong contender, winning the People’s Choice ballot and scoring an Honourable Mention from the Committee. Colloquial and contentious, it was used as a neat descriptor of this particular type of woman, its popularity being kicked along by viral social media videos. Interestingly, of the people named Karen who voted in the People’s Choice, half gave a nod to Karen themselves. – MACQUARIE DICTIONARY

 

People's Choice Word of the Year 2020 Karen

 

People's Choice Macquarie Dictionary COVID Word of the Year 2020: covidiot

Another colloquialism, embraced enthusiastically by Australians, especially during Victoria’s second wave, covidiot was a runaway winner in the People’s Choice vote. Like Karen, covidiot was given an Honourable Mention by the Committee, one member saying ‘we saw no end of covidiots on TV – and the occasional maskhole as well’.– MACQUARIE DICTIONARY

People's Choice Word of the Year 2020 covidiot COVID

 

Committee's Choice Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2020: doomscrolling

Do your thumbs hurt from scrolling through the seemingly endless barrage of bad news in 2020? Ours do too, and that's why doomscrolling is the 2020 Commitee's Choice Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year.

A very salient marker of 2020, with its barrage of troubling news, from the bushfires to the US elections and, of course, coronavirus. Doomscrolling is a neat construction, and gives a nod to our modern-day addiction to our digital devices. –THE COMMITTEE

doomscrolling - 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.  

Committee's Choice Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year Honorable Mentions

There were two Honourable Mentions this year, Karen and pyrocumulonimbus. Karen is a piece of slang you have likely heard that is 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.

The second word came to our editors' attention during the Black Summer bushfires. A pyrocumulonimbus is a cumulonimbus cloud which forms above a source of intense heat, such as a bushfire, volcanic eruption, etc.

Honourable Mention: Karen

A contentious term, but a big one in 2020, from Bunnings stores to the footpaths of St Kilda. The lack of a male equivalent points to the sexist nature of the word -- there are definitely plenty of entitled male versions about . . .–THE COMMITTEE

Honourable Mention: pyrocumulonimbus

Who could forget the news stories of last summer, and the images of these massive weather events caused by the fires? A lovely-sounding word for a horror that hit home for us all. –THE COMMITTEE

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

 

Committee's Choice Macquarie Dictionary COVID Word of the Year 2020: rona

And for our second Word of the Year for 2020, we have selected rona, a shortening of coronavirus a.k.a. COVID-19.

In true Australian fashion, we started using this shortened version of coronavirus at the very start of the pandemic. It’s neat, it’s quintessentially 2020, and it’s a typical Australian formation. – THE COMMITTEE

rona - COVID-19

Committee's Choice Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year Honorable Mentions: Covid category

Given how tough it was to choose just one word from a shortlist of twenty, the Committee also nominated two COVID words for Honourable Mentions. These were covidiot and COVID normal.

A covidiot is a person who refuses to follow health advice aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19, while COVID normal refers to a way of living in which a community takes precautions against the transmission of COVID-19, prior to the availability of an effective vaccine, as a natural part of day-to-day life

Honourable Mention: covidiot

This appeared very early, but really took hold during Victoria’s second-wave lockdown, during which we saw no end of covidiots on TV – and the occasional maskhole as well. –THE COMMITTEE

Honourable Mention: COVID normal

After much reference to ‘the new normal’ in the first months of the coronavirus, COVID normal gave this term a twist to neatly refer to what will be our accepted way of life when community transmission has been halted, but before the wide availability of a vaccine. –THE COMMITTEE

 

 

 

 

 

COVID normal - a way of living in which a community takes precautions against the transmission of COVID-19, prior to the availability of an effective vaccine, as a natural part of day-to-day life.  otcovidi - a person who doesn't abide by new restrictions to help stop the spread of COVID-19

 

Word of the Year Shortlist 2020

Please find all the shortlisted words below, or you can read the definitions for the Word of the Year shortlist here and the COVID Word of the Year shortlist here.

adaptive clothing - 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 bee vectoring - 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.

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

HIA - 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.  inclusion rider - 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.

Karen - 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. lo-fi - produced with minimal processing or intervention.

 panda bashing - criticism of a Chinese government policy, action, etc., by another country, especially a western country.  profit-for-purpose - 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.

pyrocumulonimbus - a cumulonimbus which forms above a source of intense heat, such as a bushfire, volcanic eruption, etc. seened - 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 - a colloquial term for the flying fox stalkerware - 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.

suicide first aid - 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.