COVID has proven again to be the gift that keeps giving, with the Australian National University’s Australian National Dictionary Centre today announcing its word of the year.
The winner is strollout (noun): the slow implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination program in Australia.
Strollout was chosen from a long list of words and phrases that Australians employed in 2021, the second consecutive year dominated by COVID-19.
Australian National Dictionary Centre Director Dr Amanda Laugesen says this year there were inevitably words related to the COVID-19 vaccination program.
“These became part of the everyday language of ordinary Australians,” she says. “As the Delta strain of COVID-19 spread around Australia the urgency of vaccinating the population became clear, with words like vaccination hubs, vaccine hesitancy, vaccine passports, vaccine rollout, and double-vaxxed gaining prominence.”
Laugesen says ‘strollout’ captured the mood after the slow initial pace of the national vaccination rollout was initially described by political leaders as “not a race”.
The term even made its way to publication in international newspapers such as The Washington Post.
“It’s yet another example of how a truly Australian expression can make waves globally,” Laugesen says.
The 2021 shortlist included such terms as double-vaxxed, Clayton’s lockdown and Fortress Australia – rather logical followers from last year’s winner, iso.
The Australian National Dictionary Centre researches Australian English in partnership with Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand, and edits Oxford’s Australian dictionaries.
Ian Connellan is editor-in-chief of the Royal Institution of Australia.
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