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What is Macquarie Dictionary’s word of the year?

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Macquarie Dictionary has announced “mansplain” as 2014 word of the year, and “share plate” as the people’s choice.

Both winning words were chosen from the list of every new word included in the annual update of the Macquarie Dictionary online.

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Mansplain is a verb – a man explaining something to a woman, in a way that is patronising because it assumes that a woman will be ignorant of the subject matter.

The committee said they felt mansplain was a much-needed word and that it was clever, neatly capturing “the concept of the patronising explanation offered only too frequently by some men to women”.

This year’s committee consisted of Dr Michael Spence (Vice-Chancellor, University of Sydney), Professor Stephen Garton (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Sydney), Anne Bell (Director of University Libraries, University of Sydney), Catriona Menzies-Pike (Arts Editor, The Conversation), John Birmingham (journalist and author), and Susan Butler (Editor of Macquarie Dictionary).

Ms Butler said the winning word simplifies describing a situation that many women found themselves in.

“When a man is, in a heavy-handed manner, explaining something to a woman that she already knows it’s complicated to say ‘look, you’re being a bit patronising because you’re assuming that I wouldn’t know that sort of thing because I am a woman’ – where as you could just say to them ‘you’re mansplaining again’ – it sums it up very nicely,” she said.

The word that received the highest vote for the people’s choice word of the year was share plate – a serving in a restaurant designed as multiple small portions so that several diners can share the same dish.

Ms Butler said the choice surprised her.

“In the past the committee has usually gone for something fairly solid and serious that they think reflects the culture or mood of the year, and the people’s choice has often been something quirky or funny,” she said.

“Share plate seemed rather not quirky at all… but it [was] very very popular – there [was] a great deal of enthusiasm for it.”

Honourable and dishonourable mentions

Runners-up for word of the year were lifehacking (noun – the application of strategies or shortcuts used to simplify or improve any aspect of one’s life), binge watching (noun – the practice of viewing a favourite television series, seeing many episodes in one extended sitting), and bamboo ceiling (noun – a barrier created by prejudice which hampers the progress of Asian Australians to positions of leadership in government and business institutions).

A dishonourable mention was given to selfie stick for being “inescapable”. Photo: ABC

The committed gave a dishonourable mention to selfie stick, a device with an extendible rod for holding a camera or smart phone, allowing the user to take a selfie from an appropriate distance and to include more in the frame.

“A dishonourable mention to the selfie stick for being inescapable,” the committed said.

Past winning words

Infovore, onesie (2013): Someone who craves information, especially one who takes advantage of their ready access to it on digital devices, while onesies are loose-fitting one-peice suits, often designed like animals or characters.

Phantom vibration syndrome, first world problem (2012): The constant anxiety some people feel convinced that their mobile phone has vibrated in response to an incoming call or text when it hasn’t, while a first world problem relates to the insignificant concerns of those with an affluent lifestyle.

Burqini, fracking (2011): The term for a swimsuit designed for Muslim women, comprising leggings and a tunic top with a hood, while fracking is a process where fractures are made in rock to extract oil or gas supplies.

Googleganger, shockumentary (2010): A person with the same name whose online references are mixed among search results for the same name, while shockumentary is a film or television documentary featuring footage of accidents or violence.

Shovel-ready, tweet (2009): Relates to a building or infrastructure project capable of being initiated immediately after funding is assured, while tweet means to post a message on the social network site Twitter.

Toxic debt, flashpacker (2008): Debt which, although initially acquired as a legitimate business transaction, proves subsequently to be financially worthless, such as the subprime loans which precipitated the GFC, while flashpacker is a backpacker who travels in relative luxury.

Pod slurping, password fatigue (2007): Refers to the downloading of large quantities of data to an MP3 player or memory stick from a computer, while password fatigue relates to the level of frustration reached by having too many different codes to remember.

Muffin top (2006): Popularised by TV show Kath and Kim, muffin top refers to a fold of fat around the midriff which spills out over the top of tight-fitting pants or skirts.


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