Word for Word

Macquarie Dictionary

Australian English has many fascinating stories, interesting etymologies, and wonderfully weird slang. In Word for Word, we explore the surprising histories behind everyday words and phrases, go behind the scenes with the dictionary editors, and meet some of Australia's most interesting word-lovers, from Scrabble champions to hip-hop artists.

Introducing Word for Word
Trailer 2 min

All Episodes

In this, the final episode of season 6, we join the Word of the Year Committee to discuss which word was crowned the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2021, the selection process and other words from the short list. Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it.  You can also explore the 'additional links' and definitions below to learn more about our favourite animal phrases. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Nov 30

21 min 51 sec

In this episode of Word for Word, Melissa Kemble and Alison Moore interview Professor Rachel Nordlinger and Associate Professor Nick Thieberger, two linguists from the University of Melbourne about the 50 Words Project, which aims to provide a selection of 50 words in every Indigenous language of Australia.  Visit their website at 50words.online Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it.  You can also explore the 'additional links' and definitions below to learn more about our favourite animal phrases. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Oct 18

19 min 12 sec

In this special expletive-laden episode of Word for Word, Melissa Kemble interviews linguist and academic Kate Burridge from Monash University about swearing. Warning, this episode contains A LOT of bad language. Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it.  Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

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Oct 5

19 min

In this episode of Word for Word, we discuss the new words that have caught our attention over the past few months. Consider this a sneak peek of the words that might appear on the Macquarie Word of the Year list shortlist! Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it.  You can also explore the 'additional links' and definitions below to learn more about our favourite animal phrases. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Sep 20

19 min 21 sec

In this, the first episode of the new season of Word for Word, the Macquarie team discuss some of the funniest (and rudest) Aussie animal slang. Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it.  You can also explore the 'additional links' and definitions below to learn more about our favourite animal phrases. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast  

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Sep 6

19 min 22 sec

In this episode of Word for Word, we are joined by Tiger Webb from the ABC to chat about the inaugural Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Decade. Find our which words have had staying power and which have fallen out of use.  Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Mar 3

19 min 55 sec

In this episode of Word for Word, we are joined by members of the Word of the Year Committee to discuss which word was crowned the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year, the selection process and other words from the shortlist Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it.  Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Dec 2020

34 min 43 sec

In this episode of our special "in-iso" season, we chat about new words on the team's radar. Our editors discuss the Karen phenomenon and Beyoncé, while Chief Editor Alison Moore explains dictionary headwords and how two words can win Word of the Year. This is a Covid free episode. If you are interested in new words arising from the pandemic, check out episode #35 A Pandemic of new words.  Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it.  Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Jul 2020

22 min 39 sec

Language around the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve. In this episode of our special "in-iso" season, the team chat about some of the new words that have come into usage as a result of life in the times of COVID.  Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it.  Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast  

Jul 2020

16 min 3 sec

In this special “iso edition” episode, we take a small detour from talking about the virus to chat with Chief Editor Alison Moore about one of her favourite things — pronunciation.  Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it.  Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast  

Jun 2020

18 min 59 sec

In this special “iso edition” episode, we chat about some of the many new words that have emerged from the global pandemic of COVID-19. One of the most common ways new words are made is by word mashups, or portmanteau words. The massive societal change brought about by coronavirus has resulted in many new words cropping up — from quarantini to covidiot and beyond. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Jun 2020

11 min 16 sec

In this new episode of a special "in iso" edition of the podcast, Senior Editor Vic Morgan shares some of the different names we use for the virus—from COVID-19 to the Rona. Plus, she clears up the confusion between the meaning of epidemic and pandemic. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Jun 2020

11 min 4 sec

From catfishing and FOMO, to the rise of the ‘influencer’, the internet is a rich source for ever-evolving slang words and expressions. In this special bonus episode, we look at popular internet terms, abbreviations and acronyms that have made their way into colloquial language. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Jan 2020

9 min 35 sec

In this episode we are talking about all things wine! From the origins of slang and regionalisms to varietals and naming, as well as the many words used to describe the aromatics and taste of wines. Plus, the team does some investigative work and puts their noses, palates and vocabulary  to the test in a blind tasting. And it wouldn’t be a Macquarie Dictionary podcast if we didn’t also talk a little bit about Aussie slang, particularly that around wine. Pour yourself a glass and let’s get started. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Jan 2020

19 min 27 sec

It's that time! Take a peek behind the scenes with us as Macquarie Dictionary chooses its 2019 Word of the Year. We once again join the Word of the Year Committee meeting, hosted at Macquarie HW, as they debate which word best represents the year. Guest judges include David Astle (radio host, writer and crossword compiler extraordinaire), Beverley Wang (journalist, producer, podcaster), Rudi Bremer (radio broadcaster and producer) and Tiger Webb (ABC Language). What's your choice for Word of the Year 2019? Review our shortlist and cast your vote for People's Choice here. Voting closes 8 December 2019. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Dec 2019

20 min 23 sec

In this episode we explore the language of technology. How did we speak about the burgeoning computer age 30 years ago, and how do we speak about technology now? The team investigates the words that we have used to talk about technology - those that have stayed with us, those that have evolved, and those that have faded over time. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Nov 2019

16 min 9 sec

New words and meanings are constantly being created, with some of these passing by in the blink of an eye, while others have more staying power. In this episode, the team talks about the ways new words are created, and take a closer look at some of the new words that have been submitted to us. Plus, the editors explain how we determine whether a word warrants a place in the dictionary, and once it’s approved, what happens next.   Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Oct 2019

24 min 49 sec

Secret languages abound in history and in modern culture, with words occasionally making the leap into the mainstream of spoken English. In this episode we example the secret language of Polari with Professor Paul Baker and Colleen Windor of Les Girls. Plus, the Macquarie team discuss which Polari words have made it into the dictionary, and the resurgence of some words on the TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Oct 2019

38 min 13 sec

It's that time! Take a peek behind the scenes with us as Macquarie Dictionary chooses its 2018 Word of the Year.   In this episode tag along to the secret Word of the Year committee meeting hosted at Macquarie HQ, featuring guest judges Rae Johnston (Editor of Junkee), Jenna Guillaume (Editor-at-Large of Buzzfeed Australia), James Bradley (novelist and critic), and Tiger Webb (ABC Language).    What's your choice for Word of the Year 2018? Review our shortlist and cast your vote for People's Choice here. Voting closes 21st January 2019.   Read more about Word for Word at:  macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Jan 2019

20 min 45 sec

Can a cryptic crossword really preserve your memory and super-charge your brain? Australia's favourite cruciverbalist, David "Don't Attempt" Astle, investigates. Meanwhile, the Macquarie team decrypts linguistic mysteries, ciphers and puzzles, and the conversation takes them from Ancient Egypt to your local butcher's shop.   Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Dec 2018

28 min 30 sec

In Indigenous cultures, traditional languages are bound up with family, history and place. In this episode, we meet three Noongar people - Miles Franklin-winning novelist Kim Scott; music historian Clint Bracknell; and performer and director Kylie Bracknell - to ask how an ancient, endangered language can live and thrive today. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Nov 2018

24 min 28 sec

When it comes to bugging a suspect, re-interpreting a dusty statute, or presenting evidence in a criminal trial, the shifting tides of language draw the law with them. In this episode, forensic linguist Dr Helen Fraser tests our ear-witness fallibility with speech evidence from a real-life murder case. Plus, the Macquarie team remembers that time they had to investigate a ransom note. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Nov 2018

32 min 37 sec

Surprise! We're back with another bonus episode, featuring some funny, fascinating, unaired tidbits from Season 2.   Also, you can vote for us in the Australian Podcast Awards! Voting closes 1st April, so head to this link posthaste: bit.ly/2pPuGI3

Mar 2018

15 min 20 sec

So ... we have news. It's officially the end of an era. Our long-time Editor Sue Butler is putting away her pencil and catalogue cards to retire, after 48 years at Macquarie Dictionary.   Join us as we look back with Sue at her incredible career in words.   Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Mar 2018

17 min 9 sec

It's that time! Take a peek behind the scenes with us as Macquarie Dictionary chooses its 2017 Word of the Year.    We sidle into the secret Word of the Year committee meeting, featuring guest judges Dr Karl and Tiger Webb of ABC Language. The editors lament the worst evergreen query - "But It's Two Words!" - and throw a tiny bit of shade at other dictionaries' picks (youthquake, anyone?). And finally, Adrik overcomes an obstacle.   Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Jan 2018

30 min 54 sec

It takes a special kind of person to be a dictionary editor. You need an instinctive understanding of language, a sharp, ever-listening ear, and the ability to laugh off death threats (really). In this very special episode, Merriam-Webster's Kory Stamper and Macquarie Dictionary's Alison Moore discuss both the drudgery and the delights of their work, as we journey into the secret heart of the dictionary editor.    Kory Stamper's book is Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries.   Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Nov 2017

18 min 27 sec

Buckle up for a wild ride down the Information Superhighway, and into Cyberspace, where language moves faster than we can catch it. While the dictionary team reflects on the technology words of the past, our resident internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch fights the good fight on hyphenated email; Adrik and Kate look for favourite words at Oz Comic-Con; and we discover a brand new language online, all for the love of dogs (it's h*ckin good).   This is the final episode of Season 2, but stay subscribed! There are more bonus episodes to come in the weeks ahead.   Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

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Oct 2017

25 min 3 sec

In Australia, we're working with a wild array of slang: classic phrases, new inventions, and slang so good that other countries want a piece of it. In this episode, lexicographer James Lambert explains the appeal of informal language; Kate tries to blend in at the skate park (gnarly, dude!); and Sue Butler decodes a song we all know, but perhaps have never entirely understood.   Read more about Word for Word at: macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Oct 2017

22 min 41 sec

Sometimes English spelling seems designed to bamboozle. How did we end up with all these inconsistencies, quirky flourishes, and spellings that bear no resemblance to pronunciation? In search of an answer, the editors dig into the history of English spelling - including attempts to reform it - and hint at the secret work they do for spelling bees today. Plus, we check in with the adorable contestants of the Great Australian Spelling Bee TV series, two years on; and Adrik Kemp collects favourite words from the Sydney Story Factory.    Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Oct 2017

27 min 49 sec

In politics, we can always point to the slipperiness of language. In this episode, the dictionary editors remember iconic Australian political slogans, and consider new words like "fake news" and "antifa"; we're on the hunt for favourite words at the Antidote Festival; and John di Domenico, the world's no. 1 Donald Trump impersonator, takes us inside the language of the 45th American president.   Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Oct 2017

28 min 54 sec

Every language plays by its own rules. So how do you faithfully represent the stories of one language in another? Novelist Hannah Kent remembers how it felt to see her bestselling book Burial Rites translated into 29 languages; literary translator Meredith McKinney inducts us in the secrets of her profession; and Sue Butler explains the allure of untranslatable words.   Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Sep 2017

24 min 35 sec

When it comes to the language we use around gender, change is happening fast. But some of that new language isn't so new after all. Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch takes us deep into the history of pronouns in English, and the long and useful life of singular they; the editors look to Sweden, with an eye on The Watch List; and Norrie explains how one little word took them all the way to the High Court of Australia.    Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Sep 2017

28 min 42 sec

Winston Churchill called the Australian accent "the most brutal maltreatment that has ever been inflicted" on the English language. But when Strine first emerged, it was praised as an unusually pure variety. Linguist Felicity Cox traces the history of our accent from the Sydney colony to the present day - when it's still changing.   Plus: pronunciation can be a source of personal anxiety and public controversy. The dictionary editors muse on the Americanisation of Australian English, the rise of "haitch", and the oral gymnastics of "ophthalmologist".   Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Sep 2017

22 min 36 sec

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Or would it? In this episode, we dive headfirst into the history of naming. Tiger Webb from ABC Language helps us get to grips with given name trends, surname extinction and Australian place naming; the Macquarie Dictionary editors peel back the secret stories behind everyday eponyms; and Kate is hard at work cuddling babies.   Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

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Sep 2017

26 min 37 sec

We're back! Season 2 launches 6th September with new weekly episodes, featuring more secret word histories, fascinating guests, and behind-the-scenes revelations from Macquarie Dictionary. Listen for a preview of what's in store this season. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

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Aug 2017

2 min 32 sec

Before 1788, hundreds of Indigenous languages were spoken in Australia. Today, that picture looks very different, but language remains an essential part of the fabric of Indigenous identity. In this special episode of Word for Word, we explore a language with tens of thousands of speakers, as well as some languages spoken only by a handful of people; novelist Kate Grenville tells the story of an unusual First Fleet lieutenant and his attempts to learn the Gadigal language; and we meet a young Indigenous woman in the remote community of Ngukurr, who is determined to keep her grandmother's language alive. Macquarie Dictionary acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to elders past and present. We acknowledge the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their cultures, languages, communities and ways of life. We acknowledge there are differing usages of the terms “Aboriginal”, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander”, and “Indigenous” within Australia, and use these terms respectfully throughout this episode. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Apr 2017

32 min 17 sec

Join us as we go behind the scenes in the selection process for Macquarie's Word of the Year. We listen in on the Word of the Year committee meeting, featuring guest judges Dom Knight and Annabel Crabb; the dictionary team reflects on how the extraordinary politics of 2016 collided with our language last year; and Sue Butler is the guest of honour at a kebab house.   Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Feb 2017

28 min 42 sec

Yas queen, we're finally talking internet slang! In this episode, we marvel at the evolution of language online, exploring emoji, hashtags, and new words with writer Alex McKinnon. It's lit. Also: the dictionary team reminisce about the weird things you've sent them in the mail, and the players at The Games Den reveal their favourite words. This is the last episode in our very first series of Word for Word. But don't worry! We'll be back with brand new episodes early in the new year. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Dec 2016

17 min 30 sec

It's the question that sparked debate around the country: what do you call a sausage in a piece of bread? Your answer will likely reveal your roots, as the Macquarie team goes beyond bathers vs. cossies to explore Australian regionalisms. Also: Sue Butler reveals the secret histories behind some uniquely Australian turns of phrase, and we get closer to nature in search of favourite words. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Dec 2016

15 min 43 sec

Fancy yourself a dab hand at Scrabble? Meet Esther Perrins. She's a former British national champion and Guinness World Record holder, and her highest score for a single game of Scrabble is a staggering 683 points. Also: Sue Butler muses on the enduring appeal of folk etymologies and the Pan Macmillan book club deploys some very classy favourite words. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Nov 2016

17 min 56 sec

Warning: this episode contains quite a lot of swearing because we're talking about - well, swearing. This week, the Macquarie Dictionary team is living dangerously with no good, very bad, extremely naughty taboo words. Also: Sue Butler tells the story of Australia's very first dictionary, written by a notorious convict, and we swing by the local dojo to collect some favourite words. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

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Nov 2016

17 min 18 sec

This week on Word for Word, poet, rapper and author Omar Musa waxes lyrical on the rich diversity of Australian slang. Also: the Macquarie team explains how a new word gets in the dictionary and we hang out with a local Harley Davidson chapter. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast 

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Nov 2016

18 min 45 sec

Welcome to the very first episode of Word for Word, a podcast about words and language from Macquarie Dictionary. It's the dictionary's job to record every aspect of Australian English, warts and all, and to keep up with changes in the language. But sometimes change can land the dictionary in a world of controversy ... Also: how do you tell the difference between a great guy and a good bloke? Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Nov 2016

16 min 7 sec

Warning: this episode contains naughty words, sexual references, and really terrible euphemisms. This week on Word for Word, two strange bedfellows: love and politics. Sue Butler explains what makes the language of Australian politics so colourful, and a romance editor and author debate the value of euphemism. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

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Nov 2016

17 min 34 sec

Word for Word is a brand new podcast from Macquarie Dictionary. Throughout this series, we explore the surprising histories behind everyday words and phrases, go behind the scenes with the dictionary editors, and meet some of Australia's most interesting word-lovers, from Scrabble champions to hip-hop artists.  Join us as we explore our language: the ways we use it, the ways we abuse it, and the ways we ultimately change it. Read more about Word for Word at macquariedictionary.com.au/podcast

Oct 2016

2 min