Posted on 1 September 2020

Spring into six more new words

Welcome to our new words blog, where we share new and topical words, some of which were submitted by you via the suggest a word feature on our website. There is a powerful stretch in the evenings. That's right, winter is finally shuffling off the seasonal stage (to sparse applause, a chilly reception you might say, aha ha) and making room for spring. Everything is new, everything is wonderful! Here are six words for the season of renewal.  Going to miss winter? Nurries. That's another way of saying no worries, making this a classic case of short Aussie slang becoming even shorter.   If you follow the news, you might have heard about wolf warrior diplomacy, a diplomatic strategy of China in which any criticism from another country is met with an immediate response or retaliation. The strategy is named after the famous Chinese movie Wolf Warrior, which has been described as a Chinese version of Rambo! How would the wolf warriors get on against the snapping handbags? That's a colloquial term for crocodiles.  On a creepier note, stalkerware is a type of spyware installed on a user's smartphone without their knowledge. Ew. You might want to zump (end the relationship via a Zoom call) the person who installs that on your phone. Otherwise they might get access to all your renegade videos - a type of dance popularised on Tik Tok.  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 26 August 2020

A new book from Sue Butler, 'Rebel Without a Clause'

Rebel Without A Clause by Sue Butler is a fascinatingly idiosyncratic romp through the world of words from the former Editor of the Macquarie Dictionary coming on 29 September 2020. The English language is changing constantly. We invent new words and phrases, we mash up idioms, we mispronounce, misuse, and misappropriate. Sue Butler has heard it all and this book is a collection of what she has observed since she handed over the reins of Macquarie Dictionary to the new Editor, Alison Moore. For Butler, obsolete words are like pre-loved clothes: it’s tempting to adopt them because they look lovely but when you put them on they appear rather daggy. Her favourite old word is the Scottish curglaff for the shock you feel in bathing as you plunge into the cold water. You might really need this word for swimming but it won’t work for you in common usage. Inventing new words is harder than you might think. Butler reflects on the popular method of blending two existing words. That’s how we came up with babelicious and acronyms such yuppies and SNAGs. We also borrow from other languages, recently taking hygge from Danish. In English the easiest method is to stick two existing words together to make a new compound, as in break room. For all fellow word nerds, dive into Sue Butler’s new book and explore conundrums like: If nonsensical, why not sensical? If bemused, why not mused? If dismayed, why not mayed? Also check out Sue's irreverent look at Aussie language in The Aitch Factor, as well as her work for the Macquarie Dictionary.
Posted on 18 August 2020

New and old words we love to hate

The release of the Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition should be a celebration of all of the new and wonderful words that have entered our lexicon in the past few years. However, while we take great delight in most, there are always a number which make us feel like dying a little inside. Whether it’s the awful  sound of the word, its construction, its meaning, or even the dismal fact that it exists at all, its inclusion in the Macquarie is based upon an established usage within Australian English. Deepfakes and incels fill me with terror (both contenders for the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year in 2018). Underboobs, twitterature and sneaters also make me worry about our future. Zoats are definitely something I won’t be eating anytime soon. Spoopy sounds plain ridiculous but does guarantee a laugh if you find the right video so I’ll give this one a pass. Talking about words we dislike always acts as a catalyst for readers to voice their objections to their pet hates. In a world in which every single person or thing seems to be described as unique, I feel quite giddy when actually hearing it used simply to mean "of which there is only one". Don’t worry, the use of literally (see here for other words we hate...) and versing still generate the most strident of our emails.  And whether we like it or not, COVID-19 has not only seen the creation of numerous new terms but also a sharp increase in usage of existing words and phrases, such as unprecedented, the new normal and PPE (personal protective equipment). But just how many times can something be unprecedented and become the new normal? Some of the new COVID-19 terms are being used at such high frequency that they feel like they have been part of our language forever, such as social distancing, iso and flatten the curve. I’d much rather avoid the awkward (and not socially-distanced) elbow bump, settle in with a quarantini and cook up some fakeaway. What established and emerging words do you hate? We’d love to know.