Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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
Word of the Year Shortlist 2020