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2008’s New Words

8 January, 2009

Do you suffer from Wii shoulder or nomophobia?

Have you ever engaged in sexting?

What do you think of ear gauging?

Are you a mockbuster fan or do you prefer car crash TV?

Do you know any pod people or celebutards?

Do you have a fur child?

When was the last time you suffered from audiation?

No, it’s not a strange language. All of the above terms have been deemed widespread enough to be included in the recent annual  update of the online  Macquarie Dictionary.

Maybe some of the words below will make it into your stories this year?

I’ve highlighted my own  favourites in blue.

The dictionary’s website also invited people to vote for Word of the Year, the word that is ‘the most valuable contribution to the English language in 2008’. The results? The word-selection committee at Macquarie Dictionary chose toxic  debt as word of the year and listed as honourable mentions the following words: bromance, textaholic, querilla gardener, lawfare, flashpacker. The People’s Choice Award for word of the year: flashpacker.


Wii shoulder (WEE shohlduh)   painful inflammation of shoulder caused by excessive playing of virtual computer games involving movement. [Wii (trademark of a console designed for such games) + shoulder]

nomophobia ( nohmuh’FOHbeeuh) state of anxiety brought on by not having mobile phone contact, as from a low battery, no network coverage, etc. [no mo(bile) phobia; coined in a study into mobile phone and internet users commissioned by the UK Post and released in 2008]

Who hasn’t seen this? It’s like watching someone withdrawing from drugs–same sweats, irritability, etc.

twitterverse Colloquial (humorous) the world of microbloggers. [Twitter, an internet social networking service + (uni)verse]

sugging Commerce attempting to sell under the guise of conducting market research, often with incentives attached to lead the potential customer to a purchase. [s(elling) u(nder the) g(uise of market research)]

shwopping On the internet, the exchange of items of clothing and accessories for a similar item offered by someone else on a website designed to facilitate such an exchange. [blend of shopping and swapping]

internet roaming facility which allows users to access their email and internet services outside their own country.

lifestreaming online recording of one’s daily life, delivered via a webcam or aggregated from personal blogs, microblogs, etc.

Can you think of ANYONE  whose life you’d want to follow on on a daily basis? And would you want others to know all the boring bits that make up your life?

QR code a data matrix bar code which, when scanned by a mobile phone, connects to a website for the downloading of information, as for example, a QR code at a transport terminal which connects the user to a timetable. [Q(uick) R(esponse) + code]

sexting Colloquial receiving or sending of a sexually explicit photo or video clip on a mobile phone. [s(ex) + (t)exting]

textaholic Colloquial someone who sends an excessive number of text messages.

Great term to capture this aspect of social life. How irritating when you  lunch with someone who spends the time reading and texting instead of  listening to you!

celeblog a blog written by a celebrity.

click-and-mortar of or relating to a company which has operations online and offline, e.g., a commercial website and a physical store.

extreme programming style of programming required for agile development. Abbrev– XP

linkbait verb (t) create points of interest in (a website) so that other sites will link to it and increase traffic on the site, as by running competitions, featuring high-profile contributors, etc.  —noun 2. such an attractive feature of a site. [(web) link + bait ]

Great to get a term for this phenomenon.

lolcat a photograph of an animal, usually a cat, posed or digitally edited and humorously captioned using elements of baby talk, SMS coding, etc., in the text.  [LOL + cat]

I’m hooked on the lolcat I Can Has Cheezburger site ( Some creative captioners out there.

uberveillance omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human body.

electronic whiteboard whiteboard that has digital capability and can be connected to the internet, a printer, etc.

fire cam camera mounted on an observation tower which registers smoke and flames from a bushfire and triggers an alert, while also providing a record of activity in the area, as for identifying arsonists.

PODS system for controlling parking meters by a device inserted just below the surface of a parking bay which detects the presence of a car and relays a signal to a parking officer when the car has overstayed the parking limit. [P(arking) O(verstay) D(etection) S(ystem)]

personal medical alarm electronic device worn around the neck or wrist, or on one’s clothing, which can be activated in a medical emergency to summon help.

GIS computer system that can capture, store, analyse, and present in various ways data that locates places on the earth’s surface. [G(eographical I(nformation) S(ystems)]


ear gauging ear piercing procedure that involves stretching the pierced hole with a series of objects, each one larger than the previous one. [from the different gauges of the plugs inserted to widen the piercing]

Another great word, given that it goes beyond the definition of ear piercing.  At my local hardware store, one of the employees was ‘gauging’ by using the different sized nozzles off various glues, caulking, etc. found around the place. Creative but unusual to look at when talking to him about plywood and snail bait.

lace eyelashes decorative false eyelashes which comprise fan-shaped overlapping strips of lace-like material extending beyond the eyelashes.

mouth grills cosmetic dental device worn over the teeth, usually made from a precious metal or ornamented as jewellery. Also, mouth grillz. [originating in US hip-hop culture]

pimp cup a goblet-shaped glass, usually brightly coloured and highly decorated, often with the owner’s name picked out in rhinestones. Also, crunk cup. [pimp (from the flashy style) + cup]

scene kid Colloquial person who adopts an unconventional style of dress, such as coloured hair worn high on the head, dramatic eyeliner and straight jeans, and who prefers hip-hop, screamo, punk rock, and other offbeat genres of music.


machinima ( MUH sheenuhmah or muh SHIN uhmah)   creation of 3D animation films for use within a computer game environment, using the existing visuals of the game for characters, backgrounds, etc. [blend of machine and cinema]

mockbuster low-budget movie which is modelled on a blockbuster and usually seeks to trade on its fame or to be a send-up of it.

webcom sitcom available online which allows the viewers to take an interactive role in shaping the storyline, creating characters, making up dialogue, etc. [web + (sit)com]

car crash TV Colloquial TV program that is simultaneously absorbing and repulsive for the viewer.

verbatim theatre genre of plays which uses the exact words of people interviewed, as after a particular event, as the text for the actors.

chess boxing, chessboxing sport which alternates a round of boxing with a round of chess.

chicken-wing tackle Rugby League illegal tackle in which the arm of the person tackled is pushed up behind his back.

adventure running sport of running over a long-distance course through natural terrain, which sometimes presents hazards such as rocks, snow, high altitude, etc., using orienteering skills to select the best path to follow.

roller trainer trainer (def. 5) with a rollerblade wheel housed in the heel, which pops out when the toe is pressed down.

tunneling Australian Rules tactic used by a player to unbalance an opponent going for a mark by knocking their legs sideways while they are in the air.

guerilla/guerrilla dining dining at a restaurant that has been set up temporarily in an unused space such as a car park, beach, rooftop or a private home, etc., customers being alerted by word of mouth to the location.

I experienced this before  there was a word for it. Friends did the restaurant thing on Sundays, calling the event Never On a  Sunday. They eventually stopped when they discovered that if caught, they’d be up for a $20,000 fine.

connoisseur tourism tourism based on need to ignore conventional travel destinations in favour of more remote or unusual destinations.

Again, great to have a term to pin this phenomenon. Maybe need a spin-off term–one-upmanship con. tourism–to describe people who use their experience to put down everyone else in the conversation?  Like the guy at a party who said, ‘You mean you’ve never swum with dolphins?’

flashpacker Colloquial backpacker who travels in relative luxury. [flash(y) + (back)packer]

film tourism tourism occasioned by the wish to visit a well-known location used in a film or television production; set jetting.

Don’t go to New Zealand. I’m sure some  tourists there really do expect to see Frodo and friends wander out on the road.

wellness tourism tourism emphasising the achievement of a state of wellness, as by physically healthy activities such as walking combined with mind therapies such as spa treatments, good nutrition, etc.


toad buster or toadbuster a person engaged in the eradication of the cane toad.

We should all be toadbusters, given that the cane toads are taking over the Top End of Australia and poisoning the native animals.

bromance non-sexual but intense friendship between two males. [bro + (ro)mance1]

fanta pants Originally British a person whose hair is naturally red. [from the orange-coloured soft drink Fanta + pants, with reference to pubic hair as the indicator of hair colour]

bff a close and intimate friend. [b(est) f(riends) f(orever)]

dub-a-dub-dub the prefix www used in website addresses. Also, dub-dub-dub.

granny season winter, during which many older members of the population travel north, especially with caravans, campervans, etc., in search of warmer weather.


Animateur (anuhmuh TER)   a person who leads a group activity by giving creative input, direction, facilitation and organisation, as in community projects, artistic ventures, etc. [French: one who gives life to something]

moral hazard 1. a situation in which one’s morals are at risk. 2. Finance. a situation in which a person engaged in a financial transaction has an incentive to take unwarranted risks because of the existence of a mechanism for redressing any adverse effects of a bad transaction.

freeconomics a business model, especially on the internet, where much of the material is free but the income is derived from advertising, sales of additional products or services, etc.

Another good term to identify something familiar.

GFC the global financial crisis of 2008.

toxic debt debt which, although initially acquired as a legitimate business transaction, proves subsequently to be financially worthless. Example: subprime loans which precipitated the GFC.

collaborative law practice of law based on a cooperative rather than an adversarial process. The disputing parties are helped by legal professionals to reach agreement without going to court; often used in divorce cases.

lawfare the use of international law by a country to attack or criticise another country, especially a superior military power, on moral grounds, that is, by accusing it of having violated international law. [(international) law + (war)fare]

patent troll a company which buys up patents with the sole intention of launching lawsuits for patent infringement.

transformative justice form of justice which seeks to involve all parties, wrongdoers, victims, families, and friends, in a process of understanding the motivation and the consequences of the crime, particularly in crimes where community attitudes play a part. 


climate porn predictions, thought to be exaggeratedly alarmist, about the progress of global warming and its effects on the world.

pod person 1. Science Fiction an alien being with the body of a human being, indistinguishable from a real person but working to destroy the human race. 2. Colloquial someone who unquestioningly accepts authority, taking all ideas, dogmas, policies, etc., without question.

climate wars international conflict caused by the effects of climate change, such as reduced resources, population shifts, failing economies, etc., theorised as likely to occur in the future if measures are not taken to control global warming.

environmental equity the principle that there should not be gross disparities between groups in a population with regard to exposure to environmental hazards which result from industrial, municipal, commercial, or other human activities.

wholesale politics employment of mass marketing techniques to further the interests of a political party, cause, etc., as in television and internet advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, etc.

bullycide Originally US suicide which is a reaction to being bullied. [bully1 + (sui)cide]

celebutard US Colloquial (derogatory)   a celebrity who is regarded as excessively stupid. [celeb(rity) + -u- + (re)tard]

fur child Colloquial a pet animal, as a cat or dog, treated as one would a child.

My cat, Cincinnati, would be upset at being classed as a child. She sees herself more as the higher being who deigns to live with us lower forms.

generation Z the generation born in the early 2000s, following generation Y, characterised as being at ease with computer technology, online and mobile phone communication, and multitasking, and active consumers influencing their parents’ purchasing decisions, but brought up in the world where both parents work. 

helicopter parenting style of child rearing in which parents are excessively attentive to and involved in the lives of their children. [from the notion that the parents are always hovering overhead]

baby brain Colloquial (humorous)    perceived diminished mental capacity, as characterised by forgetfulness, loss of concentration, etc., thought to be a side effect of pregnancy. Also, preggie brain.


bioplastic a plastic in the manufacture of which renewable sources such as vegetable oils and corn starch are used, resulting in less involvement of fossil fuels.

ecocentrism philosophy based on the idea that the ecosphere (def. 1) is more central to life than any particular organism, and that human activity, whether it is community or individual activity, must base its morality on this recognition.

ecolabel label for goods or services which gives standardised information with regard to claims for environmental friendliness, thus assisting consumers to make choices based on environmental considerations.

ecotheology branch of theology that deals with the religious and moral aspects of the relationships between a divinity, humankind and nature.

conservation tillage minimal cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops, as by leaving stubble on the surface rather than ploughing it in, except for small strips where the new crops are sown.

guerilla or guerrilla gardener a person who plants gardens in areas controlled by councils or other organisations but neglected by them in terms of vegetation, as nature strips, roundabouts, council-maintained gardens, etc.

This  is happening in Sydney, where people are zipping out in the early morning to plant and beautify areas. They should all get awards for bringing beauty to neglected areas.

plastic soup a floating mass of waste, mainly plastic, which accumulates at the point in the ocean where a gyre is located.

water footprint the amount of fresh water, both virtual and visible, used by a country, business, organisation, or individual.

directional selection mode of natural selection which favours organisms having a particular response to the environment, that response eventually becoming fixed in the genetic material of the population.

divorce gene gene in the human genome which controls how the brain reacts to vasopressin. Men with a variant of this gene are thought to not receive the full benefit of released vasopressin after sexual intercourse and thus may have a lowered motivation towards a social bonding with their partner.

hybrid embryo embryo which has a human cell nucleus inserted into an animal egg; developed to create stem cells to be used in medical treatments.

saviour sibling child selected in embryo for genetic characteristics which can be of benefit to an existing brother or sister with an illness, especially for potentially curative stem cells to be used in medical treatments.

supergene group of genes on a chromosome which are viewed collectively because they are inherited together and have related functions. [super- + gene]

bioethanol ethanol produced from the starch or sugar in various crops for use as a biofuel.

global commons parts of the world which no individual or state may own, as the oceans, the atmosphere, outer space, and Antarctica (the last-named subject to the Antarctic Treaty, 1959).

water splitting the separation of water into its constituent molecules of hydrogen and oxygen, a chemical reaction required to produce hydrogen fuel.

mirror matter a hypothetical counterpart to ordinary matter, weakly interacting with it; thought to be the explanation for a large part of dark matter; similar to antimatter but with a weak interaction. [coined by US physicist, Robert Lull Forward, 1932–2002]

audiation process by which one plays over in one’s mind music that one has heard, which intrudes itself sometimes to an unpleasant degree.

Again, great to have a term for this. How come the music that sticks in our minds all day is usually something so inane?

Torino scale a scale for categorising the impact hazard posed by near-earth objects, such as asteroids and comets. [named after Torino (Turin) where the scale, devised by US astronomer Richard P Binzel, was first presented in 1999]

bionic eye Medicine an implanted device which restores basic vision in patients with some degenerative eye diseases by transmitting images from a small camera fitted to a pair of glasses to a silicon chip implanted into the eye and acting as an artificial retina.

brain bank a collection of human brain tissue and related samples, acquired by donation, for the conduct of research into neurological and psychiatric conditions.

dysthymia Psychology a mild form of depression characterised by a chronic inability to get pleasure out of life, usually accompanied by irregularities in the patterns of eating and sleeping, chronic tiredness, and low self-esteem.  [dys- + Greek -thymia mindedness, from thymos mind]

terminator technology method of restricting use of genetically modified plants by causing second generation seeds to be sterile.


black tomato any of various species of tomato with skin and flesh of a darker pigment than the standard red tomatoes. Colours range from dark red-brown or purplish-red, as the Russian tomato.

kiwi berry a small smooth-skinned kiwifruit.

shisha tobacco tobacco flavoured with apples, cloves, etc., smoked in a hookah. [shisha + tobacco]

yuzu (‘yoohzooh)  1. a citrus fruit, Citrus ichangensis, similar to a small grapefruit with an uneven skin.  2.the tree producing this fruit. [Japanese]

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Glen permalink
    15 January, 2009 3:53 pm

    Re lifestreaming.
    Have you read Possession? The characters in that book lifestream famous authors. At the writer’s festival the woman who wrote on Edith Wharton seemed to have done the same thing – following their journeys, reading all their journals and letters. It can be quite frightening that they have no lives of their own!


    • Marsha permalink
      16 January, 2009 9:01 am

      Hi Glen, Interestingly, I was just thinking about Possession the other day. Will need to re-read it. I’ve often wondered how biographers–such as Hermione Lee researching the life of Edith Wharton–cope after living with their subject for so long. Does it feel like a death in the family? I’d like to read Lee’s 2005 collection of biographical essays, Body Parts. The chapter titles: Writing about lives, Shelley’s heart and Pepys’s lobsters, Virginia Woolf’s nose, Reading in bed, Jane Austen faints, On being ill, Father and son: Philip and Edmund Gosse, An appetite for writing: Thurman’s Colette, The sheltered life: Ellen Glasgow, Mr. and Mrs. Eliot, A secret self: May Sinclair, Bittersweet: Rosamond Lehmann, Worn paths: Eudora Welty, A quiet ghost: Penelope Fitzgerald, Heart of stone: J. M. Coetzee, Good show: the life and works of Angela Thirkell, Psychic furniture: Ellmann’s Elizabeth Bowen, The man from God knows where: remembering Brian Moore, How to end it all.


  2. Marsha permalink
    9 January, 2009 11:50 am

    I haven’t heard of most of them either. I doubt that many will survive in next year’s list.

    And a term for typing them all into a blog entry–how about ‘crazy’?! Marsha


  3. Arlene permalink
    9 January, 2009 9:56 am

    forget these words, 99% I haven’t heard of. I am more impressed that you found them and put them on your blog. I am sure there is a word for that! Happy New Year.


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