Winning Word of the Year 2008

Feb 04, 2009

The Committee's choice for Word of the Year 2008 is: 

toxic debt 
noun debt which, although initially acquired as a legitimate business transaction, proves subsequently to be financially worthless, as the subprime loans which precipitated the GFC.

The committee, in the course of its review of the words that had been added the Macquarie Dictionary, considered the important events of 2008. The concern with the environment was an obvious issue and there were many words reflecting this, water footprint having considerable appeal. But the event of 2008 which overshadows all our lives was the GFC, itself a term now added to the lexicon. In this category toxic debt was thought to be the root cause, the lingering blight on our lives, and in addition it had, as a lexical creation, a visceral impact. It needed no explanation but said it all. 

The Committee would like to give honourable mentions to the following:

noun Colloquial a non-sexual but intense friendship between two males. 

noun Colloquial someone who sends an excessive number of text messages.

guerilla gardener
noun a person who plants gardens in areas controlled by councils or other organisations but neglected by them in terms of vegetation, as nature strips, roundabouts, council-maintained gardens, etc. Also, guerrilla gardener.

noun the use of international law by a country to attack or criticise another country, especially a superior military power, on moral grounds, that is, by accusing it of having violated international law. 

And the People's Choice Award, as voted by the public, goes to:

noun Colloquial a backpacker who travels in relative luxury. 

To see all the fascinating words that were under consideration this year, click on the category links below. The most popular words in each category were:

Entertainment: car crash TV
Business: toxic debt
Colloquial: bromance
Communications: textaholic
Ecology: ecocentrism
Environment: guerilla gardener
Fashion: scene kid
Eating and Drinking: guerilla dining
General Interest: nomophobia
Genetics: divorce gene
Health: baby brain
Internet: lolcat
Law: lawfare
Politics: climate porn
Social Interest: helicopter parenting
Specialist: audiation
Sport: chicken-wing tackle
Technology: uberveillance
Tourism: flashpacker

Check out some of the media coverage in response to the choice of toxic debt:

'Toxic debt' Macquarie's word of the year | Nic MacBean | ABC News

Macquarie Dictionary chooses 'toxic debt' as 2008 word of the year |


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