Our language is always evolving with new words being added to the dictionary every year. For 2021, it turns out that our vernacular, unsurprisingly, was influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Macquarie Dictionary choosing the word ‘strollout’ as its word of the year.
The word combines ‘rollout’ and ‘stroll’ to encompass the public’s thoughts on how slowly and inefficiently Australia has rolled out the COVID vaccines over the last 12 months.
The Macquarie Dictionary’s word of the year committee, which includes author Kim Scott, Sydney University linguistics professor Nick Enfield, and dictionary editors Alison Moore and Victoria Morgan decided that ‘strollout’ was more deserving of the title than ‘Delta’.
“At one level it’s got a transparency and a play on words, but at that deeper level, when you think about the significance of it … it’s a really important marker for this time in Australia’s history,” the committee said.
Added the dictionary’s managing editor, Victoria Morgan, “Strollout really just shows the people’s dissatisfaction with the vaccine rollout. Maybe this was a way for the public to have their say about it.”
Honourable mentions were also given to ‘menty b’ — our unique way of saying mental breakdown and ‘last chance tourism‘ which refers to “tourism to locations with endangered landscapes or geological features, or which are habitats for endangered species”.
However, it was ‘strollout’ that captured the hearts of not just the Macquarie committee, but the voting public too. The word also took out the top spot on the people’s choice votes collected by the Maccy D (Macquarie Dictionary and no, no one calls it that).
Interestingly, this is only the second time in the history of Macquarie Dictionary’s Word of the Year that both the committee and voting public agreed on the winner.
Other words that were in the running for the prestigious title included ‘brain tickler’, ‘dump cake’, ‘sober curious‘, ‘wokescold’, ‘dry scooping’ and ‘hate follow’, with Morgan telling The Guardian that, on the whole, the shortlist had a “slightly depressing tone to it”.
“But these are the concepts taking up our attention, so maybe it’s time to do something about some of them,” she added.
Last year, the reigning champion was “doomscrolling” which refers to the habit of endless scrolling through one’s phone looking at social media sites full of bad news, so at least this year, despite everything, we’ve collectively lightened up a bit.