Why we chose Kwaussie as Word of the Year 2017

The choice of the word Kwaussie as the Australian National Dictionary Centre’s Word of the Year for 2017 has raised some eyebrows, and a lot of people say they have never heard of it. So I’ll explain why we chose it.

The word came to our attention earlier this year due to its use by Van Badham, describing Barnaby Joyce (and herself), in a Guardian Australia piece. As editors of the major research project and dictionary The Australian National Dictionary: Australian Words and their Origins (Oxford University Press, second ed. 2016) we are always on the look-out for possible Australianisms and so it went into our database for further research. It also went onto our list for Word of the Year, because it related to a major event in Australia for the year – the dual citizenship saga that affected federal parliament.

We then began our research into the many words we consider for Word of the Year, including Kwaussie. Kwaussie proved to have an interesting story, and will be included in the next edition of The Australian National Dictionary. We traced our earliest piece of evidence for the word – it is first recorded in 2002 in a disparaging reference to actor Russell Crowe, a Kiwi who has lived much of his life in Australia. In a New Zealand newspaper he is described as a ‘Kwaussie (what you get when you cross a Kiwi who can’t decide whether they’re a Kiwi or an Aussie)’. (Wellington Evening Post, 19 February 2002) Continue reading

Australian National Dictionary Centre’s Word of the Year 2017

In a time of covfefe, fake news, and tweetstorms, the Australian National Dictionary Centre has chosen Kwaussie as its Word of the Year for 2017. A number of significant events shaped the Australian political, cultural and social landscape this year, and the words on the shortlist reflect a number of these.

Kwaussie ‘a person who is a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand; a New Zealander living in Australia; a person of Australian and New Zealand descent’. Kwaussie, a blend of Kiwi and Aussie, is the most interesting term associated with the dual citizenship crisis engulfing the Australian Parliament in 2017. It was used to describe the most high-profile casualty of the crisis, Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Barnaby Joyce. He revealed to parliament in August that, despite being born and bred in country New South Wales, he was also a New Zealander by descent. The first evidence is found in a 2002 New Zealand newspaper article discussing Russell Crowe: he is described as a ‘Kwaussie (what you get when you cross a Kiwi who can’t decide whether they’re a Kiwi or an Aussie’). Subsequent evidence suggests its use is predominantly Australian, and is found chiefly in social media (and also found with spelling variants including kwozzie and kwozzy). Thanks to the two kwaussies identified as ineligible to sit in parliament, Barnaby Joyce and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, the term is now becoming better known.

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