Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year
The Committee's Choice & People's Choice Word of the Year 2019
Posted on 9 December 2019
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). In 2018, the Word of the Year was Me Too. And in 2017, the word was milkshake duck.
People's Choice Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2019: robodebt
The word that took out the People's Choice, as voted on by the Australian public in an opinion poll, is robodebt.
This year there was a record number of votes cast for the People's Choice, with robodebt winning by only a handful of votes ahead of eco-anxiety, anecdata, and whataboutism. All of these words have been a significant part of our discourse over the past year, which has been reflected in this incredibly close race to be awarded the 2019 People's Choice Word of the Year.
Committee's Choice Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2019: cancel culture
The chosen word for 2019 was a tight finish, but went to cancel culture.
A term that captures an important aspect of the past year's Zeitgeist...an attitude which is so pervasive that it now has a name, society’s cancel culture has become, for better or worse, a powerful force. – THE COMMITTEE
Committee's Choice Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year Honorable Mentions
There were three honorable mentions for 2019. In line with the environmental choices of Word of the Year from other dictionaries around the world, the first mention goes to eco-anxiety. Following this is ngangkari, a word from the Pitjantjatjara language meaning 'traditional healer' and the colloquialism thicc, which comes originally from Black English in the early 2000s and is a respelling of thick.
Honourable Mention: eco-anxiety
This just edged out flight shaming for an honourable mention. Both terms reflect a strongly emotional aspect to attitudes to climate change, which is clearly something which has been of great concern in 2019. – THE COMMITTEE
Honourable Mention: ngangkari
While ngangkari have been healers for thousands of years, this word has only recently entered Australian English. It's lexically notable and refreshing because, unlike many borrowings from Indigenous languages, it is straight from Pitjantjatjara – it hasn't been translated, Anglicised, or otherwise changed. – THE COMMITTEE
Honourable Mention: thicc
Originating in African American English, thicc is a celebration of body positivity that does not conform to conventional white standards of beauty. Its spelling is a linguistic thumbing of the nose, too. – THE COMMITTEE
Word of the Year Shortlist 2019
Check out our shortlist below for every definition of the remaining twelve words or get the pdf here.