Word of the Year 2021

Posted on 29 November 2021


What is the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year

Each year, the Macquarie Dictionary calls together a selected Committee to discuss the new words and definitions that have entered the Macquarie Dictionary over the year. The aim of this is to select one of these to be awarded the Word of the Year.

As part of this process, our editors create a longlist of words (view a pdf of the longlist here) which over the course of a few hours (and one podcast episode, coming very soon), are whittled down into a short list. And from this, a Word of the Year is chosen.

Usually, we would announce the Committee's Choice and then open up the shortlist for a public vote for the People's Choice, but this year, we kept it under wraps until voting closed to announce both words together. You can check out the shortlist here and scroll down for more!

Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2021: strollout

The Committee for the Word of the Year 2021 met in early November 2021 to discuss the new words entered into the Macquarie Dictionary over the previous year. A longlist of just over 75 words from 16 categories (more on those here) was whittled down to just 19 up for contention as the official Word of the Year.

The Committee this year was comprised of:

  • David Astle - crossword maker, radio host, and writer
  • Nick Enfield - Professor of Linguistics, University of Sydney
  • Kim Scott - award-winning author, Professor of Creative Writing, Curtin University
  • Tiger Webb - language research specialist, ABC
  • Victoria Morgan - Managing Editor, Macquarie Dictionary
  • Alison Moore - Chief Editor, Macquarie Dictionary

The selection for the Committee's Choice and People's Choice Word of the Year 2021 is strollout.

For only the second time, the People’s Choice is the same as the Committee’s Choice, and it was a clear winner, way ahead of the rest of the field. There are obviously strong feelings about the actual ‘strollout’, but the word’s popularity is no doubt influenced by that Australian wryness evident in its construction.  –THE MACQUARIE DICTIONARY

Strollout has two levels: at one level it’s got a transparency and a play on words, but at that deeper level, when you think about the significance of it . . .  it’s a really important marker for this time in Australia’s history. –THE COMMITTEE

Committee's Choice Word of the Year 2021 

And the Honourable Mentions are menty-b, last chance tourism and Delta.

The Committee and Macquarie Dictionary editors had this to comment on these choices.

menty-b

The ability to discuss our mental health in a relaxed way is vital, as we navigate the pandemic, and menty-b is a sign that we’re doing it.  It’s not ponderous or serious -- it’s an easy way into an important discussion. –THE COMMITTEE

Delta

Part of a system introduced to replace the naming of COVID variants after places, with the stigma that entails, Delta is not an inventive word, but this variant has dominated our lives. 2021 has been the year we’ve been stomped by Godzilla, and Godzilla happens to be called Delta. –THE COMMITTEE

last-chance tourism

This speaks of a shared concern about the environment, and it puts it in such a provocative way, with that particular dilemma of ‘tourism’ right there. –THE COMMITTEE

While the People's Choice voting agreed with Delta and menty-b being runners-up, they switched out last chance tourism for porch pirate.

porch pirate

A fun, alliterative, almost affectionate, term for a crook who has found, in the increase in home deliveries during COVID, the perfect work environment. Another humorous construction for something serious.   –THE MACQUARIE DICTIONARY

Honourable Mention 2021 - menty-b Honourable Mention 2021 - Delta

Honourable Mention 2021 - porch pirate Honourable mention 2021 - last chance tourism

Word of the Year 2021 shortlist

You can access the shortlist, including all the definitions, on our blog here. You can also download a pdf of the definitions here. And see them all below. Which of these 19 contenders will be the Word of the Year?

All our images were created by @isabelmoondesign.

Word of the Year 2021 - brain tickler Word of the Year 2021 - brick-bait Word of the Year 2021 - Delta Word of the Year 2021 - dignity suit Word of the Year 2021 - dry scooping Word of the Year 2021 - dump cake Word of the Year 2021 - front-stab Word of the Year 2021 - hate-follow Word of the Year 2021 - humane washing Word of the Year 2021 - last chance tourism Word of the Year 2021 - menty-b Word of the Year 2021 - NFT Word of the Year 2021 - porch pirate Word of the Year 2021 - range anxiety Word of the Year 2021 - shadow pandemic Word of the Year 2021 - sober curious Word of the Year 2021 - strollout Word of the Year 2021 - third place Word of the Year 2021 - wokescold