Tony Abbott’s 2013 decision to install Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker was seen as an early captain’s call. Photo: Alex EllinghausenFor a man whose linguistic bloopers have come to shape much of his political career, Tony Abbott is an unlikely origin of 2015’s Word of the Year.
But it is the former prime minister’s style of decision-making that has thrust the expression “captain’s call” into the spotlight, beating all other Macquarie Dictionary entrants as the term that most “perfectly encapsulates what happened in Australia over the past year”.
The term, originally limited to cricket argot, has been adopted in the ever-changing world of political patter where it has come to define Mr Abbott’s habit of making important decisions without thorough consultation.
“There has been an interesting change in usage; an infrequent item of the jargon of cricket makes the leap into politics and is now being used generally with an ironic tinge to it that is very Australian,” the Macquarie Dictionary committee said.
The dictionary’s editor, Susan Butler, said that discussion had veered towards “lumbersexual” but eventually settled on “captain’s call” as the year’s stand-out “lexical item”.
“It leapt out as something significant that entered our lives and lexicons in the previous year, people are using it with a slight sense of irony and are taking playful satisfaction in it.”
A close second on the list, earning an honourable mention, was “deso”, an abbreviated version of designated driver and an entry that Butler said was both unexpected and very Australian.
“It’s amazing, really, we seem to find a way of [shortening] all sorts of words, of all sorts of lengths, in all sports of parts of speech.”
Other new entries in the leading dictionary include listicle, snackable, ecocriticism, bae, merman hair, hoverboard, open kimono, manspread and fitspiration.
The editor’s favourites are both words that revolve around the consumption of media and information – and our changing relationships with the ways in which we read, watch, listen and play.
“I like listicle and snackable,” she said.
“Snackable seemed to me to capture something about the way in which we now consume information, we’re now flooded in vast amounts of text, but we’ve figured out a way to deal with it, which is to scan. We’re now presenting information in ways that are possible to scan – everything is in snackable bits.”
Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2015, committee picks:
wombat gate: noun, a swing gate installed in a ditch going underneath a fence, so that wombats, who follow very predictable patterns pass under without destroying the fence.
abandoned porn: noun, a genre of photography which romanticises abandoned buildings and urban areas in a state of decay. Also, ruin porn.
price baiting: noun, the practice adopted by a real estate vendor of advertising a property at a discounted price which would not ultimately be accepted at auction, in an attempt to lure possible buyers to the auction.
deso: noun, colloquial, a designated driver. Also, deso driver.
listicle: noun, a type of article in online journalism and blogging which is presented in the form of a list.
Frankenfruit: noun (also lower case), a fruit produced as a hybrid of other fruits, or infused with the flavour some way.
cool burn: noun, a bushfire mitigation procedure in which small fires are lit in circumstances which do not allow them to develop the kind of intense heat which is destructive to vegetation and wildlife, but which reduce the threat of uncontrolled bushfire.
lumbersexual: noun, an urban male who wishes to associate himself by his appearance with a rugged outdoors way of life, as by wearing outdoor clothes such as check shirts, jeans and typical of a lumberjack.
grolar bear: noun, a hybrid species, the offspring of a grizzly bear and a polar bear; occurring naturally in greater numbers as a result of climate change.
fitspiration: noun, 1. an exhortation, usually online, designed to push the reader or viewer to undertake more strenuous exercise in the pursuit of health and fitness, sometimes associated with the pursuit of an ideal body image. 2. such an exhortative message.
dox: noun, 1. an internet-enabled attack on a person’s privacy, in which their personal details and sometimes those of their family and friends are released online, viewers being invited to use them in whatever way they wish. –verb (t) 2. to publish the private details of (someone) online.
captain’s call: noun, a decision made by a political or business leader without consultation with colleagues.
fur baby: noun, colloquial, a pet animal, child. Also, fur child, furbaby.
slackpacking: noun, an arrangement for a walking trip lasting longer than one day, in which heavy items such as food, wine, etc., are delivered to accommodation points, the walkers being required to carry only a daypack.
selfie drone: noun, a drone equipped with a camera so that it can take photographs and videos from the air of the owner posing or performing various actions.