Posted on 15 December 2020

Cowabunga! Looking back at bodacious 80s slang

The 1980s were Australia's golden age: an era of big hair and big personalities in sport and politics. The 80s were all about making a statement. Aussies did so with language, some of it invented, but much of it borrowed from other English-speaking countries. Below, we’ve compiled some of the more fun and interesting slang coinages. Some big pieces of Aussie slang made their first appearance in the 80s. No less than bogan got its first run in the 80s. Meaning 'fool or idiot' and initially popular among schoolkids, bogan is now a staple of Aussie language. This was also the era when deadly, meaning 'fantastic or cool' and not literally deadly, began to crossover from Aboriginal English into the Australian English lexicon. Like deadly, filth was another way of saying something was bad but meaning it was good: The waves were absolute filth. Then there was the spunk rat, meaning a sexually attractive person. Spunk rat evolved from spunk, which appeared in the 1970s and referred to a good looking person. Other variations included spunk bubble and spunkette.  Perhaps due to the cultural dominance of the United States, Australia borrowed much of its slang from the Reagan-era USA. Awesome, bodacious and cowabunga were all borrowed from American English. As was chill out, along with bro and radical. Most of those slang words were first heard in the early 80s and made their way to Australia by the end of the decade.  From the Brits, we borrowed bonk – to have sex recently given an Aussie twist in bonk ban, and snog. I'm not sure whether that says more about Aussies or Brits! Overall, the 1980s was a time of epic slang. The decade also provides a perfect demonstration of the influence of other Englishes on Australian English. If you're an absolute legend, check our Australian Word Map for more local (and quite a few 80s) words and phrases.
Posted on 1 December 2020

Word of the Year category insight | Environment

There are a 15 categories in the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year competition (you can check the full list of words here). Each category consists of five words, with the winner of each category forming part of our shortlist and going in to the running for Word of the Year. In light of the pandemic, we also introduced a special COVID category for 2020. You can read about it here. This year, pyrocumulonimbus is the 2020 Environment category winner. In addition to this, the word has received an Honourable Mention from our Committee. A pyrocumulonimbus is a cumulonimbus cloud which forms above a source of intense heat, such as a bushfire or volcanic eruption. In a year when the pandemic has dominated local and global headlines, we still remember how the Black Summer bushfires left a mark on our landscape, and our language. One other word on the shortlist, black hail, a weather phenomenon caused by bushfires, also has its origin in the bushfire events that began in summer of 2019 and continued through 2020. Check out the other four words in this category and their definitions below. Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. black hail noun dark-coloured hail which results from atmospheric conditions of a firestorm, the airborne soot and ash of the fire mixing with ice particles which form the hailstones. Humpback Highway noun Colloquial either of two marine migration corridors along the eastern and western coasts of Australia, as used by humpbacks moving from Antarctic waters to warmer waters of the north to breed before returning.  Also, humpback highway, whalehighway. net zero adjective (of a building) producing an amount of energy, as from a renewable source, which offsets the amount of energy consumed: a net zero apartment complex.  Also, net-zero. plant blindness noun a tendency to be unaware of or to ignore the flora in one's immediate environment. [coined in 1998 by US botanists Elisabeth Schussler and James Wandersee]
Posted on 1 December 2020

Word of the Year category insight | Politics

There are a 15 categories in the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year longlist (you can check the full list out here). Each category consists of five words, with the winner of each category forming part of our shortlist and going in to the running for Word of the Year. In light of the pandemic, we also introduced a special COVID category for 2020. You can read about it here.  This year, panda bashing won the Internet category. Panda bashing is defined as criticism of a Chinese government policy, action, etc., by another country, especially a western country. Covid wasn't the only thing shaking up our language in 2020. Politics had a big say too, contributing several new words that generated enough clout to make it into the Macquarie Dictionary. Ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement to the halls (and bedrooms) of Canberra, see which other words made the shortlist for this category below.  Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. ACAB noun Colloquial (an acronym, often represented numerically as 1312, used to indicate anti-authoritarian sentiment towards a police force, especially in protests against a perceived abuse of power.)  [a(ll) c(ops) a(re) b(astards)] bonk ban noun Colloquial (humorous) a policy which prohibits employees within the same organisation from having sexual relationships with each other, especially of government ministers and their staff.  [BONK + BAN; popularised in 2018 when brought in as part of the government code of conduct by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull] ecofeminism noun a philosophy, theory or movement which combines principles of feminism with environmental issues.  –ecofeminist, noun, adjective Magnitsky act noun a law which allows a government to impose sanctions on foreign individuals, companies, etc., who commit human rights violations and engage in corrupt behaviour, as by freezing their assets and placing bans on entry visas. [named after Sergei Magnitsky, 1972–2009, Russian auditor, who reported a misappropriation of funds by Russian government officials and was subsequently held in custody where he died]
Posted on 1 December 2020

Word of the Year category insight | Internet

There are a 15 categories in the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year longlist (you can check the full list out here). Each category consists of five words, with the winner of each category forming part of our shortlist and going in to the running for Word of the Year. In light of the pandemic, we also introduced a special COVID category for 2020. You can read about it here.  The 2020 Internet category winner (and overall Word of the Year) is doomscrolling. In a year when bad news seemed to arrive with every news and social media update, we found ourselves 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. Sounds like fun, right? No! That's why it's called DOOMscrolling and not FUNscrolling. The extra time we spent online this year helped generate a wealth of new words. Check out the four other shortlisted words from the Internet category below. Find out which word was voted the winner in the People's Choice Word of the Year. blackfishing noun Colloquial the practice of a white person pretending to be a person of colour on social media, often for financial gain.  [modelled on catfishing (see CATFISH), from the deception practised] finsta noun an additional account on the social media platform, Instagram, which someone creates to share content with select people rather than with the wider public. [F(AKE) + Insta(gram), a social media platform] snitch tagging noun Colloquial (on social media) the practice of tagging a person in a post from which they had originally been excluded because it contained criticism of them.  Also, snitch-tagging. –snitch tagger, noun zoombombing noun Colloquial the act of joining a private video meeting while not authorised to do so.
Posted on 1 December 2020

Word of the Year category insight | Colloquial

There are a 15 categories in the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year longlist (you can check the full list out here). Each category consists of five words, with the winner of each category forming part of our shortlist and going in to the running for Word of the Year. In light of the pandemic, we also introduced a special COVID words category for 2020. You can read about it here.  This year, sky puppy won the Colloquial. An adorable piece of slang, sky puppy is another name for a bat, especially a flying fox, aww.  The Colloquial category was hotly contested during the Word of the Year Committee meeting. See below for the other words the Committee members were cheering for. Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. e-boy noun Colloquial a male member of a social-media youth subculture, influenced by anime, K-pop and other forms of popular culture, with fashion drawing on that of the late 1990s and early 2000s, brightly coloured hair, dark eye makeup and heavy neck chains.  Also, eboy. futch noun Colloquial a person, especially a lesbian, exhibiting both butch and femme characteristics. [F(EMME) + (B)UTCH] poggers interjection Colloquial (an exclamation expressing excitement or approval.)  Also, pog. [from an emoticon PogChamp used to indicate excitement or surprise on the live streaming site Twitch] spoopy adjective (spoopier, spoopiest) Colloquial of or relating to something generally considered eerie or scary but which has been modified to be humorous: spoopy skeletons dancing; a spoopy movie.  [play on SPOOKY]
Posted on 1 December 2020

Word of the Year category insight | Communications

There are a 15 categories in the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year longlist (you can check the full list out here). Each category consists of five words, with the winner of each category forming part of our shortlist and going in to the running for Word of the Year. In light of the pandemic, we also introduced a special COVID words category for 2020. You can read about it here.  The winner of the 2020 Communications category is seened. A fresh piece of slang, we defined seened as of or relating to a text message, post, etc., which is registered as having been viewed, but which has not been responded to. Check out the other four words that made up the shortlist for the Communications category. Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. false balance noun a form of bias in which opposing sides of an issue, which are supported by differing levels of reliable evidence, are misrepresented as being equally valid; bothsidesism. lel Colloquial (an abbreviation, originally in digital messaging, used to indicate amusement.) [a play on LOL, which is now considered dated by some younger generations] nowcast noun a report on current weather conditions, or of those forecast in the immediate future.–nowcastingnoun –nowcasternoun thumb stopper noun Colloquial a news article, comment, image, etc., accessed on a digital device, especially a smartphone, which captures the reader's attention, causing them to pause to read or view it, instead of scrolling to subsequent content.  Also, thumbstopper. –thumb stoppingnounadjective
Posted on 30 November 2020

The Macquarie Dictionary COVID Word of the Year shortlist

The Macquarie Dictionary COVID Word of the Year is rona. The word was chosen from a list of 20 COVID-related words. You can see the shortlist below.  Though there are 15 categories in this year's Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year, we decided to create a special COVID category to isolate the huge number of pandemic-related words from the rest our shortlist, which you can view here. Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. boomer remover noun Colloquial (humorous) COVID-19. [BOOMER + remover, with reference to COVID-19's greater death rate among older people] bubble noun a zone comprising two or more countries or states between which people can travel without border restrictions, such as the need to quarantine, especially as established by various governments during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic: a trans-Tasman bubble; a border bubble. Also, travel bubble. contact tracing noun (in epidemiology) the practice of locating people who have been in close proximity to someone diagnosed with an infectious disease, such as an STD, meningococcal disease, measles, coronavirus, etc.  –contact tracer, noun convalescent plasma noun plasma taken from someone who has recovered from a disease, the antibody-containing plasma to be infused with the plasma of a person at risk of or suffering from the same disease, thought to boost immunity to or reduce the severity of symptoms of the disease. cough cloud noun the mass of aerated sputum, mucus, etc., expelled by a cough. 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.  [blend of COVID-19 and IDIOT] COVID normal noun 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. Also, COVID-normal. doughnut day noun Colloquial a day in which zero cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 are recorded in a region. Also, donut day. [so called from the resemblance of a doughnut to the numeral zero] elbow bump noun a tap on someone's pointed elbow with one's own pointed elbow, used as a greeting instead of a handshake, kiss, hug, etc., to reduce the risk of transmission of infection, especially during a pandemic. hub verb (i) (hubbed, hubbing) to form a hub; to be part of a hub: *Starc is thankful he can walk down the street in Adelaide for a coffee while hubbing for the Sheffield Shield. –CANBERRA TIMES, 2020. infodemic noun a situation in which there is such an abundance of information available on a particular subject, that it is difficult to ascertain which is reliable and which is not.  [INFO(RMATION) + (PAN)DEMIC] iso- a word element used, often humorously, to form words relating to self-isolation, as in isolationship (a relationship formed during self-isolation), isoreading (reading undertaken during self-isolation). long COVID noun a debilitating condition suffered by a person who has recovered from COVID-19, but who continues to experience a wide range of symptoms, including extreme fatigue, breathlessness, a persistent cough, etc., and sometimes suffers damage to major organs. maskhole noun Colloquial (derogatory) an anti-masker.  [MASK + (ARSE)HOLE] quarantini noun a mixed alcoholic drink made at home during a time of enforced social isolation, as during a pandemic, such as COVID-19.  [humorous blend of QUARANTINE and MARTINI] R number noun (in epidemiology) the number of people, on average, to whom one infected person will pass on an infectious disease. Also, R value. [R(EPRODUCTION) + NUMBER] rona noun Colloquial COVID-19: we met online during the rona; Rona wrecked their wedding plans. Also, Rona, 'rona, 'Rona. [(CO)RONA(VIRUS)] sentinel surveillance noun the testing of a subset of a population for a particular disease, the results of the sample being taken as representative of the presence or prevalence of the disease in the wider population.  Also, sentinel testing. social distancing noun (especially in epidemiology) the practice of maintaining a distance, usually specified by a health authority, between individuals, as a means of limiting transmission of an infectious disease.  Also, physical distancing. WFH working from home.
Posted on 30 November 2020

The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year shortlist for 2020

The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year for 2020 is doomscrolling. The word was chosen from a longlist of 75 that was whittled down to 15 by the Macquarie Word of the Year Committee. Check out the 15 words on the shortlist below. For insight into individual categories, see our Word of the Year blog series. In light of the pandemic, this year we also decided to create a COVID category to isolate the many words arising from this global crisis. Go here to find out which word won the special COVID category. Find out which word was voted the People's Choice Word of the Year. adaptive clothing noun clothing which has been designed to facilitate dressing for someone with a physical or intellectual disability, incorporating such features as velcro, different positions for fastenings, special fabrics, etc. Also, adaptive wear. bee vectoring noun a form of crop pest control in which hived bees are used to transport an organic powdered pesticide to any flora they pollinate, the bees having to pass through the pesticide as they leave the hive, with the powder attaching to their fine body hairs. cottagecore noun Colloquial a lifestyle characterised as being rustic or old-fashioned, involving such pastimes as handcrafting, baking, gardening, etc.  [COTTAGE + (HARD)CORE] 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, noun HIA noun (in sport) a procedure which determines if a player who has sustained contact to the head has suffered concussion, the player being allowed to return to the field if cleared.  [h(ead) i(njury) a(ssessment)] inclusion rider noun a clause in the contract of an actor, filmmaker, etc., which specifies a level of diversity to be met in the project's staffing, especially in relation to gender, race, sexuality and disability. Karen noun Colloquial (pejorative) (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.) [Karen being a common name of this generation] lo-fi adjective (of wine) produced with minimal processing or intervention.  [modelled on HI-FI; generalised from specific music context, with sense of simplicity, low intervention, etc.] panda bashing noun Colloquial (derogatory) criticism of a Chinese government policy, action, etc., by another country, especially a western country.  –panda basher, noun profit-for-purpose adjective of or relating to a business which directs a portion of its profits towards a specific area of social or environmental welfare: a profit-for-purpose organisation; the profit-for-purpose sector. pyrocumulonimbus noun a cumulonimbus which forms above a source of intense heat, such as a bushfire, volcanic eruption, etc. seened adjective Colloquial of or relating to a text message, post, etc., which is registered as having been viewed, but which has not been responded to. sky puppy noun (plural sky puppies) Colloquial a bat, especially a flying fox. stalkerware noun a type of spyware which a person installs on another's smartphone or other digital device, usually without the user's knowledge or consent, through which the installer can remotely monitor the user's location, communications, search history, etc.  Also, creepware. suicide first aid noun emergency mental health support given to a person who is seen to be at risk of taking their own life, until the services of a professional can be obtained.  –suicide first aider, noun
Posted on 23 November 2020

Are you a couple of lamingtons short of a CWA meeting?

Aussie Word of the Week

Are you a couple of lamingtons short of a CWA meeting? We hope not, because this ingenious phrase means stupid, as in lacking a full complement of intelligence. It's also a little sad, because who wants to attend a meeting that lacks delicious lamingtons? The phrase is part of a long line of short of phrases that speakers of Australian English use to insult each other.  Since the 19th century people who are 'not all there' have been described by phrases comparing them metaphorically to some aggregate which is lacking its full complement. One of the earliest examples of this is the Australian phrase a shingle short (of a roof, that is). This dates back to the 1840s. An early British example of similar age is a button short (of a coat). A similar notion is found in not the full quid. Generally things are a 'few' or 'couple' short, as in few bricks short of a load or a couple of alps short of a range or a few sheep short of a paddock. For some reason, food metaphors are the most common, such as a few bites short of a bickie, or bangers short of a barbie, or sandwiches short of a picnic, or a few Tim Tams short of a packet. Or, in this case, your humble Macquarie blog writer might be a few sentences short of a blog. 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.