Search for word of the year

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of United States  , New York
Saturday, January 17, 2009

In 2007 it was "pod slurping", the year before, "muffin top", and now the jury's out on what will be named 2008 word of the year.

Pop culture has lent "fanta pants" (a red-head), "BFF" (best friends forever) and "bromance" (a non-sexual but intense relationship between two males) to the list of nominees.

Rising interest in going green has boosted environmental jargon to include "water footprint" (the amount of fresh water a person or group uses) and "ecolabel" (a sticker providing information about the environmental friendliness of a product).

Now in its third year, voting has begun for the Macquarie Dictionary word of the year.

Macquarie Dictionary editor and selection committee member, Sue Butler, told AAP the nomination categories gave an indication of what mattered over the past year.

For the 2008 competition, six new categories have been included; entertainment, communications, genetics, law, tourism and ecology.

Each of the 19 categories features five words, chosen for their relevance to members of the community, although, they may not be familiar to all.

For example, the "chicken-wing tackle" is well-known to rugby league fans, but to the rest of us, the "illegal tackle in which the arm of the person tackled is pushed up behind his back", is foreign.

The chosen words have all made the cut for the updated online version of Macquarie Dictionary and been given a definition.

"These are words that we've collected over the year ... that look like candidates for being in the dictionary," Ms Butler said.

"The best way of spotting the words that ought to be in the dictionary is to have an intelligent human being reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, watching television, listening to people at parties and so on.

"Their (the words') currency in the community (is) established and definitions written for them ... and (they are) added to the dictionary online."

Online polling, introduced in last year's competition, determines the popular choice winner which will join the 2007 favourite, "password fatigue" (a level of frustration reached by having too many different passwords to remember, resulting in an inability to remember even those most commonly used).

Ms Butler, an editor of Macquarie Dictionary for nearly 40 years, said the committee looks for a word that has "creative zing".

Joining Ms Butler on the panel is Dr Michael Spence, vice-chancellor of Sydney University, Professor Stephen Garton, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Sydney University and poet Les Murray.

The committee last year deemed "pod slurping" (the downloading of large quantities of data to an MP3 player or memory stick from a computer) the word of the year.

In 2006 the term "muffin top" was the winner, made popular by the Australian comedy duo Kath and Kim.

For those who aren't familiar with the unflattering phrase, a muffin top is "the fold of fat around the midriff which, on an overweight woman, spills out over the top of tight-fitting pants or skirts".

Ms Butler picks "flashpacking" (backpacking in style and comfort), as her favourite for 2008.

"...because I see myself as a flashpacker."

She is already on the lookout for additions to the 2009 edition of the dictionary after hearing an advertisement for dragonfruit.

Online voting closes on January 31 and the winner will be revealed in the first week of February.
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