Macquarie Dictionary


Inaugural Word of the Year 2006

The Committee’s choice of Word of the Year 2006 is:

muffin top

noun Colloquial the fold of fat around the midriff which, on an overweight woman, spills out over the top of tight-fitting pants or skirts. 

This seems to be an Australian creation which has spread around the world, carried on by the popularity of Kath and Kim. It made news in New York in 2005 and was one of the words nominated for the American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year Most Creative section. It was pipped at the post by whale tail, the bit of the g-string or thong that shows above the waistband at the back of pants.

The Committee thought that the vivid imagery of this word with its sense of playfulness and the fact that it is an Australianism made it the clear winner.


The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year Committee comprises:

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Professor Gavin Brown
Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney, Professor Stephen Garton
Publisher of the Macquarie Dictionary, Susan Butler


The results in each category were determined by voting on the Macquarie Dictionary website and were as follows:

General Interest   affluenza
Colloquialism   muffin top
Specialist terms   administrivia
The Political Scene   plausible deniability
Eating and Drinking   ethical eating
Fashion   ubersexual
Travel   envirotourism
Technology   cyberstalking
The Environment   water trading
Sport   blood doping
Health   norovirus


The Committee would like to give honourable mention to:


noun the dissatisfaction that accompanies consumerism as a path to happiness.

The definition which seems current for the rest of the world is ‘the psychological malaise suffered by wealthy young people with symptoms of lack of motivation and feelings of guilt’. In Australia the meaning has been generalised to cover a widespread social phenomenon, not just a malaise of the rich.

The Committee felt that this word framed a concept that was significant in the community and for which there was no other word. The coinage was neat, almost too neat, and, unlike many attempts at creating new words by blending, did lead to a reasonable grasp of the meaning from an analysis of its parts (affluent + influenza).



plural noun  the miscellaneous organisational details relating to the administration of a project, organisation, etc.

This again is a blend, in this instance of administration and trivia, but trivia in the sense of miscellaneous and often seemingly unrelated detail. The word has been in use in some organisational circles for almost a decade but seems to have gained wider use in the community, perhaps in response to the feeling that more people now have to do their own administrivia rather than pass it on to someone else.


plausible deniability

noun a carefully crafted situation in which a member of government can deny any association with any illegal or unpopular activities carried out by servants of the government in the event that these activities become public.

This term was first used by the CIA in relation to their activities in the Kennedy Administration. It does seem to have become a key feature of the American, British and Australian governments over the last decade.



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