Posted on 1 June 2022

Jump in for June’s new words

Welcome back to another edition of the monthly New Words blog! The first word on our list names a concept I think a lot of people will be familiar with. It’s wishcycling: putting something in the recycling without checking that it’s suitable. Packing peanuts, shopping receipts, coffee cups, soft plastics… after learning how many things you can’t put in your recycling bin, my own wishcycling days are long gone: I might even call myself a ‘fearcycler’ instead. Next up, how about an idea a lot more people should be familiar with? Taking pains to interpret someone’s argument as charitably as possible. That’s basically what it is to steelman an argument. It contrasts with and is derived from straw man, which is to misrepresent an argument that you’re criticising. It’s easy to knock over a man made of straw, but one of steel is harder to topple. Now for something we can’t blame you for not having heard of. A webtoon is a comic published online with a layout suited to computers and smartphones (and our fondness for scrolling endlessly). Webtoons originated in South Korea but are gaining in popularity elsewhere. On the other hand, you probably have heard of The Secret, a famous Australian self-help book (and film) from 2006. It helped popularise the idea that one can manifest things – that is, bring them about through sheer desire, belief, etc. Of course, the word manifest has been in the dictionary for yonks, but this sense is relatively new and seems to have exploded in popularity recently. Our last contender for this month is creching. It’s a zoological term meaning ‘the practice of some animals to form groups to rear their young collectively’. You might be acquainted with it from the behaviour of lions and penguins. What do you think? Should these words be added to the Macquarie Dictionary?  
Posted on 1 December 2021

Word for Word #43 Word of the Year 2021

In this, the final episode of season 6, we join the Word of the Year Committee to discuss which word was crowned the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2021, the selection process and other words from the short list. Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it.  You can also explore the 'additional links' below to discover what new words and definitions have been on our editor's minds in recent months.  Subscribe now on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon or your favourite podcast app to get the latest episode delivered direct to your inbox.   Words & Definitions
  • brain tickler
  • brick-bait
  • Delta
  • dignity suit
  • dry scooping
  • dump cake
  • front-stab
  • hate-follow
  • humane washing
  • last chance tourism
  • menty-b
  • NFT
  • porch pirate
  • range anxiety
  • shadow pandemic
  • sober curious
  • strollout
  • third place
  • wokescold
  Additional links Word of the Year 2021 Word of the Year 2021 Shortlist Suggest a Word Word for Word episode #29 Word of the Year 2019 Word for Word episode #37 Word of the Year 2020   Acknowledgements Word for Word is produced by Macmillan Audio Australia for Macquarie Dictionary and Pan Macmillan Australia.  Music used in this episode is by Broke For Free, available from the Free Music Archive and used by permission of the artist. Find more music by Broke for Free including The Gold Lining; and If. Our logo is by Amy Sherington. All sound effects and clips are public domain, royalty-free, or used by permission. If you like Word for Word, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts! It only takes a minute and it helps other people discover the show.  
Posted on 21 September 2021

A ruby-dazzler of an anniversary

Forty years ago, on 21 September 1981, the first edition of Australia’s national dictionary, the Macquarie Dictionary, was launched. A green and gold cocktail was invented for the occasion (see recipe below), the room was festooned with wattle, and eminent historian, Manning Clark, carried out the launching honours. The vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, Professor Edwin Webb (below left), made a short speech before asthmatically fleeing into the night, away from the wattle, to which he was highly allergic.    Copies of the new dictionary were pored over, favourite Australianisms were looked up, cries of 'It’s in!' were heard throughout the evening. After all, this was a fully descriptive dictionary, containing the gamut of Australian English. The publishing director, Dan O’Keefe, had gone through the pages just before the dictionary went to print, looking for running heads (those bold guide words at the top of each page) that could be offensive to more delicate readers. The usual suspects were checked. The page with cunt-struck (also discussed back in 2015 after an appearance on Four Corners) as a running head was adjusted slightly to bring the more innocuous headword cup back, and so become the running head. However, much to Dan’s chagrin, one of the discoveries of launch night was a running head in a usually innocuous part of the dictionary – what could possibly be offensive around mother? Mother-fucker – that’s what. The Macquarie Cocktail (Green and Gold)
  • Brut champagne
  • 1 tbsp mango juice
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • Dash of Grand Marnier
  • Whole strawberry, leaves attached, floating (the ‘green’ aspect)
  • Mint (optional additional ‘green’ aspect)
In the intervening forty years, the Macquarie Dictionary has continued to describe our language, warts and all. The internet has made research both easier and more difficult – it’s now a very different ballpark to the days of circling words in a newspaper or novel, jotting down (on the back of a chequebook!) words heard in conversation, on the bus, on radio and TV, then waiting for more citations to come in until finally judging a word to be well-used enough to be included in the dictionary. There have been complaints about the inclusion of words referring to truly horrible racist, sexist, sleazy opinions and acts. As long as these are current in the community they will continue to be part of the dictionary, just as they are part of Australian English. Naturally, these words carry warnings in the form of labels and usage notes indicating their offensive nature. The Macquarie Dictionary in 1981 contained about 80,000 headwords. The Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition, published in 2020, had nearly 110,000. The Macquarie Dictionary online has more than 130,000 headwords. The language is constantly changing and Macquarie continues to keep a finger on its pulse.  You can keep in touch with us across social media, as well as in our podcast, Word for Word. And feel free to suggest words for the next edition by submitting them through our website.
Word of the Day
Posted on 27 June 2022


Denoting the case of a word which serves as the subject of a verb.