Posted on 11 November 2020

Word of the Year 2020 from around the world

At the Macquarie Dictionary, we are preparing to announce which word survived the battle royale of 2020 to come out on top as Word of the Year. Cancel culture claimed the crown in 2019, while Me Too took the top prize in 2018.  Although we can't go there, I can confirm that the rest of the world still exists and that dictionaries from around the globe are announcing their Word of the Year winners. Collins have announced their Word of the Year as lockdown. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic looms large in their shortlist, with coronavirussocial distancingself-isolate and key worker all making their final selection, while furlough, a British government scheme similar to the Australian Jobkeeper program, also made the list. It’s no surprise that quite a few of the words on Collins Word of the Year 2020 shortlist have one big thing in common: the pandemic. Something that changed everyone’s lives so profoundly – leaving no country or continent untouched – was bound to have a significant impact on our language. BLMMEGxitTikToker and mukbang rounded out their shortlist. Mukbang featured on the Macquarie Dictionary shortlist for the 'internet' category in 2019.  The Australian National Dictionary Centre have announced their Word of the Year as iso.  Not only is iso distinctively Australian in usage, it has also been linguistically productive by combining with other words to form compounds such as iso bakingiso bariso cut, and iso fashion. Once again, COVID loomed large in the selection with Covid-normal and bubble (as in travel bubble) making their shortlist alongside Black Summer and driveway, a reference to the ANZAC Day vigils Australians took part in as a replacement for the usual ANZAC Day dawn services.  Dictionary.com have named their Word of the Year as pandemic. From our perspective as documenters of the English language, one word kept running through the profound and manifold ways our lives have been upended—and our language so rapidly transformed—in this unprecedented year. That word is pandemic, our 2020 Word of the Year. We will keep this blog updated as announcements roll in from other dictionaries, including the Australian National Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Oxford Dictionary, the American Dialect Society and more. 
Posted on 11 October 2020

Fawning over Aussie fauna

Australia has some of Earth’s most unique fauna. We have animals like the platypus and echidna that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. And we love them. We’ve even put them on our money. But deep down we know that really they’re priceless, and what better to celebrate them then through internet memes?  There is the bin chicken, also known as the Australian white ibis, which has a habit of rummaging in garbage bins for food and harassing local park goers for their lunch. They are a cultural phenomenon that shows now signs of slowing down and have even been given the David Attenborough treatment with a documentary parody. And then you’ve got the drop bear, those aggressive koalas that drop out of trees onto unsuspecting people below. The urban legend can be seen in the flesh in this interview with a UK journalist (any Aussie would tell you it’s unbelievable she made it out alive). We also have the sweet, adorable quokka with it’s tiny smile evolved specifically for the perfect selfie. It was back in 2019 when animal whisperer and actor, Chris Hemsworth, visited Rottnest Island and took this snap with one of Australia’s finest specimens. Look at those cheeks! But Hemsworth should start watching his back because boomers (no, not those ones we mean these ones) are starting to get really ripped and looking for a fight. If only we had listened to the milkshake duck back in 2016! As you can see the internet can’t get enough of our Aussie animals icons. So let us know what your favourite Aussie animal urban legend or internet sensation is in the comments below!
Posted on 6 October 2020

Six new words to watch

October is here. The weather is heating up, and though the footy finals have been moved from their traditional slots, you can console yourself with these six competitive words to watch.  There are only two pandemic-related words this month: corona corridor and maskhole. The former isn't as menacing as it sounds but is actually a route such as an air corridor established to allow movement within a travel bubble (which you may recall from this batch of new words back in July). Maskhole is an anti-masker, or someone who refuses to wear a mask, a play on, well...we're sure you can figure it out.  Futch refers to people exhibiting both butch and femme characteristics, while a letterati is a person who frequently writes 'letters to the editor.' We hear regularly from prominent letterati in the Macquarie Dictionary inbox and wouldn't have it any other way. Our final word to watch is wokefishing. A play on catfishing, wokefishing is when someone pretends to have progressive views on dating apps to ensnare a partner but doesn't hold them in real life. More -fishing words which is also relevant on dating apps are hatfishing and blackfishing. Could dating be any more confusing? 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 29 September 2020

Word of the Year: a look at past winners

Yes, that's right, as 2020 creeps towards 2021, we at Macquarie Dictionary HQ are gathering our committee of wordsmiths to decide on our Word of the Year (and what a year it has been!) Last year's winner cancel culture, still has relevance in 2020 but has been somewhat overshadowed by events since it took out the crown in December. In 2018, Me Too was the Word of the Year, while the infamous milkshake duck was the 2017 choice.  Each year, Macquarie Dictionary invites you to vote for the People's Choice Word of the Year on top of our Committee's Choice. Last year, robodebt was voted as the People's somewhat controversial choice. We can only imagine what it might be this year. Only once did the Committee's and People's Choices select the same winner. In 2015, everyone agreed that captain's call was a worthy Word of the Year. Voting for the People's Choice Word of the Year for 2020 opens in November. For a preview of words that might make it on to our 75 word longlist, check out our blogs of 'words to watch' from throughout the year:
  • January - featuring the controversial Karen generation and poo jogger.
  • February - we take on influencer fraud in our Tassie tuxedos.
  • March - have you been seened
  • April - featuring COVID-19 and the coinciding infodemic.
  • May - stop doomsurfing and put on a nicecore movie.
  • June - grab a dalgona coffee, this one is a thumb stopper.
  • July - join our travel bubble for some astrotourism.
  • August - attain blood harmony, also sky puppies!
  • September - watch out for wolf warriors and snapping handbags.
And remember, there's still time to submit a new word you think should be considered for Word of the Year, using our 'suggest a word' function.
Posted on 22 September 2020

Are we having a brain fart?

There’s a fundamental rule in dictionary-writing that colloquialisms should be avoided in definitions. The idea is that the language should be neutral in register – not archaic, not so formal as to be stilted, and definitely not colloquial. Idioms should also be avoided – those phrases that carry a meaning which is more than the literal sum of their parts – throw the baby out with the bathwater, bring home the bacon, change one’s tune, etc. This can be a challenge, but we usually get there in the end. However, one word has continued to cause headaches for the editors. It’s fart. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to use fart in definitions if it is not a colloquialism – but, it is...  isn’t it? The Macquarie Dictionary gives fart a Colloquial label, as do other dictionaries, but there have been many editorial discussions about this over recent years. Is there a non-colloquial alternative? (The lack of a non-colloquial, non-idiomatic synonym is a standard used by some lexicographers to determine whether or not a word is colloquial.) We could use break wind or pass wind in definitions (neither is colloquial, but both are idiomatic), and expel flatulence (or flatus) through the anus, which is neither idiomatic nor colloquial, but sits a little oddly as a definition for shoot a fairy or drop one’s lunch. Or for ring ripper – a noisy expulsion of flatus from the anus?? At present, you’ll find fart in Macquarie definitions for the following aromatic words and phrases: air biscuit, bottom burp, cropdusting, fluff, raspberry tart, ring ripper, smelly, trouser trumpet, blow off, shoot a fairy, drop one’s guts, let go, let off, drop (or open) one’s lunch, open one’s lunch box, pop off, blue-flame. So our problem remains. The tug-of-war between committing the heinous crime of using a colloquialism in a definition and using the equally heinous 'expel flatulence through the anus' is evenly balanced. Let’s hope there’s an answer in the wind.