Today, Macquarie Dictionary named “strollout” as its official word of the year for 2021.
Wait, wasn’t “strollout” already chosen as word of the year?
Yes – but that was a different dictionary. On Wednesday November 17, the Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) named “strollout” its word of the year for 2021, calling attention to the federal government’s snail-paced Covid-19 vaccine rollout. Now, Australia’s most widely used dictionary has selected the same word, following last year’s pick, “doomscrolling”.
The Macquarie committee says the portmanteau of “stroll” and “rollout” is easy to understand and “is a really important marker for this time in Australia’s history”.
Who said it first?
Sally McManus, secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, is reported as the first person to use the term, which she tweeted in May 2021 about the slow distribution of vaccines for aged and disability care workers. She said: “We don’t have a vaccine rollout, we have a vaccine strollout.” 702 ABC Drive host Richard Glover is credited with taking the word overseas, writing an article for the Washington Post titled “Australia’s vaccine ‘stroll-out’ shows the dangers of Covid complacency”.
What does the public say?
Surprisingly, “strollout” is also this year’s People’s Choice winner. It’s only the second time in the history of Macquarie Dictionary’s Word of the Year that both the committee and voting public agreed. “The word’s popularity is no doubt influenced by that Australian wryness evident in its construction,” says the Mac, in a statement.
Which other words were in the running?
Nineteen words were shortlisted, with the Mac committee giving an honourable mention to “Delta”, which it says “is not an inventive word, but this variant has dominated our lives”; as well as “menty-b”, which means “a breakdown in one’s mental health”. That one was also the People’s Choice runner-up. “It’s an easy way into an important discussion,” the committee says.
“Last-chance tourism” was also in the running, meaning “tourism to locations with endangered landscapes or geological features, or which are habitats for endangered species”. The Mac said the word speaks to a “shared concern and dilemma” about the climate crisis. “Sober curious”, “dry scooping” – shout out to TikTok – and “wokescold” also made the shortlist, which you can read in full here.
Who decides on Macquarie’s Word of the Year?
Each year, the Mac selects a committee to discuss the new words and definitions that have entered the dictionary over the past year. For 2021, the committee included radio host and crossword maker David Astle; professor of linguistics at the University of Sydney Nick Enfield; award-winning author and professor of creative writing at Curtin University Kim Scott; ABC language research specialist Tiger Webb; and Macquarie Dictionary editors Victoria Morgan and Alison Moore.