Macquarie Dictionary's Word Of The Year Is 'Captain's Call'

21/01/2016 8:16 AM AEDT | Updated January 21, 2016 08:44
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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott holds up a durian as he visits Singapore's Bishan Park on Sunday, June 28, 2015 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott just won the Macquarie Dictionary's Word of the Year, with his infamous "captain's call."

The Macquarie Dictionary on Thursday announced the winner of its annual Word of the Year. The word of the year is... well... two words, with Abbott's line narrowly pipping "lumbersexual" and "deso" (for "designated driver").

A committee including journalists, academics and Macquarie Dictionary editor Susan Butler deliberated over the winner.

"Captain’s call perfectly encapsulates what happened in Australia over the past year. There has been an interesting change in usage; an infrequent item of the jargon of cricket makes the leap into politics and is now being used generally with an ironic tinge to it that is very Australian," the committee said.

Abbott's controversial and often unpopular "captain's calls" were seen as one of the reasons for his ousting from the prime ministership by Malcolm Turnbull in September 2015.

The word -- referring to a special decision Abbott made himself -- had its most infamous outing when Prince Philip was awarded a knighthood of Australia. Other captain's calls included installing Bronwyn Bishop as speaker of the House of Representatives and barring his ministers from ABC program Q&A.

In February 2015, Abbott admitted in a National Press Club address that he “probably overdid it” with the captain's calls.

tony abbott

Honourable mentions in the word of the year went to lumbersexual and deso, with the committee saying:

  • Lumbersexual: noun; an urban male who wishes to associate himself by his appearance with a rugged outdoors way of life, as by wearing outdoor clothes such as check shirts, jeans and large boots combined with a beard as typical of a lumberjack. It used to be all about women’s fashions, but the words are now being dominated more and more by those related to men’s fashion. Lumbersexual is an organic phenomenon that someone has identified and named. It is a neat coinage and perfectly describes this style that peaked in Australia over the past year.
  • Deso: noun, colloquial; a designated driver. Also, deso driver. The idea of deso is very topical. It combines a drinking culture with that of a law-abiding society. The word structure itself is typically Australian – a shortened form with an -o ending. It is astonishing how quickly and smoothly the deso became part of our lives

The "word of the year" actually going to two words is not surprising, as since 2006 the Macquarie Dictionary "word of the year" has always gone to two words, or a word that is actually not even a real word at all.

Previous Macquarie Dictionary words of the year have included:

  • Mansplain (2014)
  • Infovore (2013)
  • Phantom vibration syndrome (2012)
  • Burqini (2011)
  • Googleganger (2010)
  • Shovel-ready (2009)
  • Toxic debt (2008)
  • Pod slurping (2007)
  • Muffin top (2006)

Voting is also open on the publicly-voted word of the year, with entries including agribot, showrunner, gig economy, price baiting, sharing economy, bae, cray cray, fleek, listicle, trigger warning and Frankenfruit. Click here to see the whole list and submit your votes.

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