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Strictly speaking

Gifable

Barely hours after the 2014 Oscars ceremony had finished, online headlines were touting its most gifable, or GIF-Able moments. The word refers to the image file format GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) which was originally created as a means of exchanging ...

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CORFLUTE

An article on a recent Australian by-election reported that corflutes associated with one of the candidates had been defaced.  The captioned photo alongside showed the dismayed candidate  looking at the altered portraits of himself with moustache and heavy spectacles on a set ...

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Shipping

One of the favourite pastimes of fans of a TV or book series is to imagine beloved characters as a romantic couple. For example, Harry Potter and Hermione seemed a natural pairing as they grew to maturity, only for JK ...

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HIPSTER

Hipster and hippie/hippy both owe their existence to the older adjective hip/hep meaning “smart”, in its twin senses of “street-wise” and “stylish”.  But the Oxford English Dictionary online notes that the 1976 record for all three entries is currently being ...

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A wine by any other name would taste as sweet

The sixth edition of the Macquarie Dictionary has just published and among the many new Australianisms featured is the word apera – derived from aperitif – now the official name for Australian sherry. Wine-naming has long caused controversy. While it’s ...

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Twerking, badassery

These two words from American slang came together by coincidence in the Oxford Dictionary Online’s 2013 list of additions to its database.  Neither is exactly new, but they have both suddenly become more prominent in the world of English for ...

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Aquamation

The process of disposing of human corpses is not usually considered an area of great innovation. So conservative have we been, in Western societies at any rate, that the now common method of cremation was not officially sanctioned in Australia ...

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Scumble and scumball

Visitors to the JMW Turner exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia may come across scumble, a curious word from the C19 art world.  It refers to the technique of applying a thin coating over lighter paint colours, so they ...

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Astroturfing

The practice of astroturfing involves an interested party creating the illusion of public support, to push a particular agenda. For example, the alliance of Australian retailers was set up in 2010 as a front for tobacco companies to campaign against ...

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2012 Words of the Year

The Macquarie Dictionary recently announced its winners of word (or phrase) of last year. Those chosen by the selection committee and the general public to represent the zeitgeist reflected a similar theme. The committee’s choice was phantom vibration syndrome, or ...

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