Macquarie Dictionary Blog
Posted on 8 February 2021
I'll have the schnitty, please
Aussie Word of the Week
In this week's Word of the Week, I am ordering Australia's favourite pub meal. The schnitty, the slang name for the legendary chicken schnitzel, comes with a generous side of chips and a forest of salad. Just thinking of that butterflied chicken breast makes me want to step away for an early lunch. Aussies regularly order from a menu of slang foods. The BLT, a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich, is a lunchtime favourite. You might throw in some avo, or avocado, with that for an extra treat. After a sandwich there is nothing like sitting down with a cuppa and a choccy biccy. I think those are self-explanatory. Of course, I couldn't go on without mentioning the souped up cousin of the schnitty: the famous chicken parmigiana, known affectionately as the parmi. If you're feeling extra hungry, check out our blog, Parma, parmi or parmo. Which one is correct? When it comes to drinks we've got you covered too. By the time Friday rolls around you might be ready for some bubbles, or a stubby, or a tinnie or maybe even a slab. Those are sparkling wine, a small bottle of beer, a tin of beer and 24 cans of beer respectively. So, what'll it be? Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 4 February 2021
The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Decade winner is...
After a truly bumper year for new words, and with the ticking over of a new decade, the Macquarie team decided that the time was perfect for thinking about a Word of the Decade. Taking the winners of Word of the Year for the past ten years, we asked all of Australia to vote for the words which resonated most as the first official Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Decade. After a week of voting from the shortlist, we would like to announce fake news as the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Decade! After a record-breaking number of votes, fake news beat out mansplain by the thinnest of margins, with First World problem finishing a close third. The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Decade: fake news The Committee’s Choice for 2016, fake news is Macquarie’s Word of the Decade. While we think of fake news as a coinage of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, it was around before then. However, it became emblematic of that campaign and the four years that followed it. It became part of our lives so quickly and was so overwhelming that school courses had to be developed to teach children strategies for detecting fake news. Since 2016, fake news has gained a second definition in the Macquarie, as a term used to refer to information that is viewed as being opposed or detrimental to someone’s own position – whether it is factual or not. Words are powerful and the ease with which we see this term being thrown around to instantly rob something of its credibility can be very damaging. It looks like it’s a term that’s here to stay. Runner-up: mansplain Right up until the close of voting, mansplain was jostling with fake news for the top gong. It was the Committee’s Choice in 2014, and was very contentious at the time. Regarded as sexist by many men, it was applauded by women as a simple description of a phenomenon long suffered by females, and it’s obviously still resonating. The word is a clever coinage, one of a number of humorous constructions such as mancation, manterrupt and, of course, manspread, another neat word to describe something far from neat. Of course there are many who do not find these remotely clever or humorous, and so the controversy lives on. Runner-up: First World problem First World problem was the People's Choice vote in the 2012 Word of the Year. This has proved to be a much sounder choice than the Committee’s winner that year – phantom vibration syndrome (what?). Like mansplain, First World problem succinctly sums up a sprawling concept, and makes the surrounding conversation easier and clearer. It’s often used humorously, but, even so, carries an acknowledgement of those far less fortunate. The fact that it scored one of the highest numbers of votes for Word of the Decade indicates that the term and the concept are still relevant. THE BOTTOM LINE They were the top three choices for Word of the Decade. So which were at the other end – the least popular words? share plate Voted in as the People’s Choice in 2014, share plate came a very definite last in the ballot for Word of the Decade. Perhaps the thought of such a thing in the time of COVID sounded such loud alarms and warnings that voters were scared off. phantom vibration syndrome While we still experience the phenomenon of feeling our phones vibrating in our pockets or bags when they aren’t, this name for it really never took off. The Committee chose it as the winner in 2012, but it does seem a little cumbersome. In retrospect, the runner-up crowdfunding would have been a better bet. framily People’s Choice 2017. This one could have been a star – a portmanteau which very neatly describes that group of friends who are so close they could be family. But, while it showed promise early on, it basically failed to launch.
Posted on 1 February 2021
New words to watch this month
A new month means new words. Check out our handful of new words to hold on to in February. Would you describe 2020 as a dumpster fire? We would. That's why dumpster fire, any utterly disastrous situation, heads up our eclectic list. There were plenty of opportunities for pic facs last year. That is, a photo opportunity for media at a community event, usually with politicians. Did you party from Christmas and New Year right through to the end of January? If so, your headache might inspire you to become sober curious: the exploration of a life without alcohol. Did the thought of giving up drink hit you in the feels? Those are also known as deep emotional feelings. Finally, as we spin our globes and point our fingers to the destinations we'll visit when the borders lift, we have been tracking the development of vaccine passports, a system by which vaccinated travellers entering a country can skip mandatory quarantine if they are vaccinated against COVID-19. Let us know if you have any other suggestions. We are always happy to hear new words, no matter how big or small a usage they may have. Be sure to vote for some of these when we post them on our Instagram stories. See other words suggested to the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 1 February 2021
What a rort.
Aussie Word of the Week
This week we are investigating a rort, that is, a trick, lurk, or underhanded scheme: a confidence trick. We have looked at this before through the eyes of then Editor, Sue Butler. As a verb, rort means to swindle or dupe. Part of Aussie slang since at least the 1910s, rort is a backformation from rorter. It is now commonly used in reference to election rigging, embezzlement, and other dodgy practices indulged in by the nation's movers and shakers. In this sense, the word is hardly slang any more but carries serious implications for anyone who finds their face plastered on the front page of a newspaper with rort written above their heads. A rort is all about manipulating the system to gain a wrongful advantage. Hence a racehorse whose form has been kept secret is known as a rort horse, or a smokie. Rort can also be used to describe a job that's a bit of a bludge, as in nice rort you're on here. We also discovered an outdated definition of rort from across the Tasman Sea. Yes, this is the Aussie Word of the Week but indulge us for a moment. In NZ, rort has formerly referred to sexual intercourse. We can't help but laugh that while the Kiwis are having a fantastic time rorting, Aussies are having less fun getting rorted. Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 27 January 2021
The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Decade shortlist
The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Decade is a celebration of Australian English. The shortlist below features the good, the bad, and the sometimes baffling winners of the last ten Word of the Year competitions as selected by our Committee and as voted for by you. Check out the shortlist below to see how our language has changed in the past ten years. Which words stuck with you? Which words have fallen out of favour with you? There are twenty-one words in total, so take your time and don't forget to vote for your Word of the Decade! burkini noun a swimsuit designed for Muslim women, comprising leggings and a tunic top with a hood. Also, burqini. cancel culture noun 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. Also, call-out culture, outrage culture. captain's call noun a decision made by a political or business leader without consultation with colleagues. covidiot noun Colloquial (derogatory) 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. doomscrolling noun Colloquial 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. Also, doomsurfing. –doomscroller fake news plural noun disinformation and hoaxes published on websites for political purposes or to drive web traffic, the incorrect information being passed along by social media. first world problem noun 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. fracking noun (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. framily noun (plural framilies) Colloquial a group of people who are not related by blood but who constitute an intimate network. halal snack pack noun a fast food comprising layers of hot chips, grated cheese, halal doner kebab meat, garlic sauce, barbecue sauce and chilli sauce. infovore noun a person who craves information, especially one who takes advantage of their ready access to it on digital devices. Karen noun Colloquial (derogatory) (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.) mansplain verb Colloquial (humorous) (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. Me Too adjective 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. milkshake duck noun 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. onesie noun a loose-fitting one-piece suit, usually of a stretch fabric, gathered at the wrists and ankles and loose at the crotch. phantom vibration syndrome noun 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. Also, phantom phone vibration syndrome. robodebt noun 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. Also, robo-debt. rona noun Colloquial COVID-19: we met online during the rona; rona wrecked their wedding plans. Also, Rona, 'rona, 'Rona. share plate noun a serving in a restaurant designed as multiple small portions so that several diners can share the same dish. single-use adjective intended for disposal after only one use: single-use plastic bag; single-use cup.
Posted on 27 January 2021
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. 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Captain's call was both the Committee's and People's Choice this year. 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 In 2020, there was a second category created solely for words related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Posted on 25 January 2021
Aussie Word of the Week
2020, am I right? Well, we aren't going to sit around and wait for another year to clobber us, and we aren't going to get sucked in to a doomscrolling vortex either, no way. Together we will shirtfront 2021! Shirtfronting is an act of intimidation, whether confronting someone aggressively and indignantly with a complaint or grievance, or literally grabbing them by the lapels. Made famous by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, shirtfronting is usually confined to the sports field, rather than Parliament house. In Australian Rules football, shirtfronting is when you shoulder charge an opponent with the intention of knocking them to the ground. In cricket, a shirtfront refers to an extremely smooth pitch that favours batters over bowlers. Yes, that means I could get shirtfronted and land on the shirtfront. Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 18 January 2021
Check out that Darwin-rig
Aussie Word of the Week
Fashion! It never goes out of style, that's why this week's Word of the Week is the Darwin rig, more commonly known as a Territory rig. The rig is the peculiar formal dress used in the Top End by men. Essentially, as it is so hot in the Top End, there is no need for a jacket. Territorians replace the tie and collared shirt with an open-necked shirt, and swap out long trousers for shorts and long white socks. Thongs, stubbies and T-shirts are not required. Classy. This blog has featured Aussie fashion words many times over the years. We have even written about underwear. We just can't help ourselves. Fashion even makes up one of the fifteen categories in our Word of the Year competition. In 2020, the words on the fashion longlist were quite different from the Darwin rig. The list included adaptive clothing, a type of clothing which has been designed to facilitate dressing for someone with a physical or intellectual disability; French tuck: a style of dressing in which the front portion of a shirt, T-shirt, etc., is tucked into the waistband of a skirt or trousers with the rest of the top hanging loose, and period underwear: underpants designed to absorb menstrual blood and prevent leakage, comprising multiple layers which act to wick moisture away from the body, with an impermeable outer layer. With 2021 well under way, we look forward to seeing what's fashionable in Aussie wardrobes this year. Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 11 January 2021
Buy a ticket to the cow-pat lotto
Aussie Word of the Week
This week we are buying tickets to the cow-pat lotto, a form of lottery in which a cow is placed in a pristine paddock which has been divided into squares which are numbered and raffled off. The winner is decided by the fall of the first cow-pat. While waiting for the plop to drop so to speak, we got thinking about other cow related slang words, and oh boy did we find a whole herd of them. To chase up a cow is to find a dry spot outdoors, usually with sexual intentions. In contrast, calling someone a cow is to call them a contemptible person. In fact, calling someone a miserable cow has been part of Aussie slang since the 1890s! Cow confetti is a euphemism for bullshit, while in cricket a cow shot is a stroke made without style or discrimination. Overall, it seems that cows get a bad rap in Aussie slang. Even a fair cow was early twentieth century slang for something distinctly unpleasant. Now, let's check on that cow-pat, I've got my ticket ready. Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 5 January 2021
Five new words to start the year right
Happy new year! It's time to finally say farewell to 2020 (check out our Word of the Year(s) here) and welcome 2021! Each month, we look at a few new words that have piqued our interest and been submitted by you, our readers, for consideration. From doom boom (2020 may be over, but we're still dealing with the consequences) to pollotarians and the creative art of scifaiku. Which ones do you think should go in the Macquarie Dictionary? Let us know if you have any other suggestions. We are always happy to hear new words, no matter how big or small a usage they may have. Be sure to vote for some of these when we post them on our Instagram stories. See other words suggested to the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 4 January 2021
Heading down to the bowlo
Aussie Word of the Week
This week we are closing up shop early on our suburban shopping strip and heading across the road to the bowlo for a few schooners and a game of lawn bowls. Chiefly an Eastern states word, bowlo is short for bowling club. Aussies love pubs and clubs, and why not? You'll find just about everything you need at the local club: a feed, a drink, a meat raffle, and of course a ragtag cover band belting out 80s hits over a dodgy sound system. So what if the carpet is a bit sticky and has one of those patterns that is definitely hiding something, we still book our kid's birthday party at the RSL: the Returned and Services League club or rissole if you like. The RSL has a long history in Australia. First appearing in 1916 as the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia, the organisation grew out of the spirit of camaraderie and concern for the welfare of fellow servicemen during and after World War I. As with the RSL, many Aussie clubs are associated with societal groups, especially sports clubs. Leagues clubs are any of various clubs run by bodies associated within the Australian Rugby League competition, offering food, drinks, entertainment, and other services to members, such as funding junior teams. These are also a particularly fun place to be if your team has just won the Grand Final. Add to this a variety of clubs set up by the various immigrant communities who call Australia home, like the Polish Club in Sydney's inner west, and it's clear how much we love our clubs! Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 21 December 2020
Christmas slang coming down your chimney tonight
Aussie Word of the Week
Ho ho ho, this week we are gearing up to welcome a certain big man in a red suit. That's right, this week's Word – or should I say, person! – of the Week is Santa Claus. The Macquarie team have been especially good this year. We made lists of new words and checked them twice, many of them were naughty but a few were nice. One word was so nice we choose it as our Word of the Year. With Santa Claus busy prepping his sleigh for the big night, we did some digging around our slang database and discovered that Old Father Christmas shares his name with a plant part. In New South Wales and Queensland, Santa Claus is a slang term for the fluffy airborne seed of various plants, such as the moth vine or Scotch thistle. Perhaps due to the way their white fluffiness resembles his beard, these seeds are called a Father Christmas in South Australia. Less festive names for these fuffy seeds include a wish, a fairy, and a robber. Now, off to bed! Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.