Word of the Year could be 'tweet'

The Bremer Institute of TAFE’s library manager Robyn Dennis gives “tweet” her vote in the Word of the Year contest.
The Bremer Institute of TAFE’s library manager Robyn Dennis gives “tweet” her vote in the Word of the Year contest. Rob Williams

“TWEET” has a certain charm to it, while “buzzkill” sounds like an insect repellent.

Talking your way into getting something for free is a “blag”, for those not familiar with the newest words in the Australian vernacular.

This trio of utterings and dozens like them are on a list to select from in the Macquarie Dictionary’s 2009 Word of the Year contest.

The Bremer Institute of TAFE library manager Robyn Dennis – familiar with computer lingo – opted for “tweet” as her favourite, which means to put a message on the networking site Twitter.

“Most people are sick of tweeting now, but it can be quite useful,” she said.

“I had ‘mashup’ on my word list – that’s when you can combine multiple songs. That also applies to computers.

“Most of the others, we hadn’t even heard of.”

In the various categories, examples of the word choice are: Book trailer, heist novel, poverty porn, e-meet, Zimbabwe option, butterface, hyperlocal journalist, supervolcano, bushfire survival plan, awareness bracelet, brandade, future food, dye bomb, mortgage stress, biomarker, slacktivism and brain fade.

Macquarie Dictionary editor Sue Butler said the popular vote tended to go to words that had a twist of some kind, a touch of humour in them.

“The (judging) committee, I think, looks for a word that relates to some significant event, cause or concern of 2009,” she said.

“In the first year, the popular vote and the committee vote were in accord – everyone thought that ‘muffin top’ was a winner.

“After that they diverged.

“Last year the popular vote was for ‘flashpacker’ while the committee went for ‘toxic debt’.”

Ms Butler said the words went through the usual procedures for inclusion in the dictionary.

“First we have to establish that they have currency, not necessarily in the whole community but certainly in some part of the community.

“They can’t be individual inventions or even family words.

“They have to be words that people feel they can use freely without having to explain them, at least within the community that is au fait – they need to be words that have entered the public domain through the media.

“Some people love the new words and play with them like bright new toys.

“Others resent them as intrusions into their personal language choices which were settled some time ago.”

“Buzzkill”, for the record, is something that has the effect of dampening excitement or enthusiasm.

To cast a vote for the most striking contribution to Australian English in 2009, log on to

The overall winner for the Word of the Year 2009 will be announced on February 3.


Butterface – a woman viewed as attractive in every respect but her face.

Man crush – an intense admiration which one man has for another man, which is not sexual in nature but borders on infatuation.

Neg – to make a remark or comment which is negative towards (someone).

Cocooning – of retreating to a calm and, usually, home environment for relaxation, with less socialising or going out for entertainment.

Eco-coffin – a coffin made from a material that is environmentally friendly, as recycled cardboard, bamboo, etc, in that it does not use up diminishing resources and biodegrades easily in the ground.

Friend with benefits – a person with whom one has a casual sexual relationship.

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