Macquarie Dictionary


Vote now for your Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Decade

What will it be? Which word, from those added to the Macquarie over the last decade, will be chosen as the WORD OF THE DECADE? The shortlist is the collection of words which were selected in each of the years from 2011 to 2020 – both the Committee’s Choice and the People’s Choice.

The choice of the Word of the Decade will be entirely up to you, the Macquarie community. There will be no Committee’s Choice.

Looking back over the decade’s selections, there are words which captured the serious preoccupations of the time, but also a few that were perhaps less earnest, like onesie, share plate and halal snack pack.

The words relating to the environment – fracking and single-use – are still front and centre for most of us, but a few words have petered out over the years. Framily didn’t really take off, and phantom vibration syndrome has completely ghosted the party. 

There are some that result from a convergence of social issues and social media – Me Too and cancel culture are both social phenomena, but inextricable from the internet, which spread and enabled both. Milkshake duck, which has (surprisingly to some) lasted, and is holding its own, was a comment on the influence of social media, and our engagement with it.

Politics has provided some stayers – fake news, captain’s call (the only one that was both the Committee’s and the People’s Choice), and robodebt.

And then 2020 provided us with so many new words, thanks to the rona, we had to have two sections. It will be interesting to see if last year still looms so large that the previous years’ words pale into insignificance for the voters.

Find the definitions for shortlisted words. 

Voting has closed! The winner will be announced on Thursday 4th February. 

Word of the Decade shortlist

The Committee’s Choice winner is on the left, and the People’s Choice winner is on the right.


burkini - a swimsuit designed for Muslim women, comprising leggings and a tunic top with a hood fracking - (in oil and gas mining) a process by which fractures are made in rock by the application under pressure of chemically treated water mixed with sand to natural or man-made openings in order to gain access to oil or gas supplies, considered by some to be associated with groundwater contamination; fracking.


phantom vibration syndrome - a syndrome characterised by constant anxiety in relation to one's mobile phone and an obsessional conviction that the phone has vibrated in response to an incoming call when in fact it has not. first world problem - a problem that relates to the affluent lifestyle associated with the First World, that would never arise in the poverty-stricken circumstances of the Third World, as having to settle for plunger coffee when one's espresso machine is not functioning.


infovore - a person who craves information, especially one who takes advantage of their ready access to it on digital devices. onesie - a loose-fitting one-piece suit, usually of a stretch fabric, gathered at the wrists and ankles and loose at the crotch.


mainsplain - (of a man) to explain (something) to a woman, in a way that is patronising because it assumes that a woman will be ignorant of the subject matter. share plate - a serving in a restaurant designed as multiple small portions so that several diners can share the same dish.


Captain’s call was both the Committee’s and People’s Choice this year.

captain's call - a decision made by a political or business leader without consultation with colleagues.


fake news - disinformation and hoaxes published on websites for political purposes or to drive web traffic, the incorrect information being passed along by social media. halal snack pack - a fast food comprising layers of hot chips, grated cheese, halal doner kebab meat, garlic sauce, barbecue sauce and chilli sauce.


milkshake duck - a person who is initially viewed positively by the media but is then discovered to have something questionable about them which causes a sharp decline in their popularity. framily - a group of people who are not related by blood but who constitute an intimate network.


Me Too - of or relating to an accusation of sexual harassment or sexual assault, especially as having occurred at some time in the past and which has since remained undisclosed. single-use - intended for disposal after only one use: single-use plastic bag; single-use cup.


cancel culture - the attitudes within a community which call for or bring about the withdrawal of support from a public figure, such as cancellation of an acting role, a ban on playing an artist's music, removal from social media, etc., usually in response to an accusation of a socially unacceptable action or comment. robodebt - a debt owed to the government by a present or past welfare recipient, arising from an overpayment of benefits calculated by an automated process which compares the recipient's income as stated by them to the government with their income as recorded by the taxation authority, a notice of discrepancy being automatically generated.


In 2020, there was a second category created solely for words related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.  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.

rona - COVID-19 covidiot - a person who refuses to follow health advice aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19, as by not social distancing, taking part in large gatherings, etc., as well as buying large amounts of perceived staples, especially toilet paper.

Leave a Comment

Featured Articles