Words from our Word Box: update 11

by the ANDC team

Click on the logo to go the Word Box page

Click on the logo to go the Word Box page

This is the second update for 2015 on contributions to our Word Box, the website feature you can use to alert us to new or unfamiliar words and phrases. These contributions allow us to identify new material for our archive of Australian words, and also for our general Australian Oxford dictionaries. We encourage you to contribute—just click on the Word Box image to the left to post your word. We welcome any comments about your understanding or experience of these words, and look forward to your next contributions. This update includes a selection of the terms you have posted recently. Interestingly, several of these (such as mocktail and rent-seeker) already have a long history, but have become more widely used in recent times.


Heroing the pork belly. Source: taste.com.au

cook – a cooking session. The use of cook as a noun to describe the activity of cooking can be heard on reality shows such as Masterchef: ‘Emelia found herself overwhelmed with emotion during the cook, at one point having to retreat to the pantry where she broke down in tears.’ (Mail Online, 16 July 2014) It is analogous to another noun based on a verb; the word ‘build’, meaning a construction project. As a noun, cook has been used in a culinary context in the last few years.

hero – to highlight; to give prominence to (something). The verbal use of the word hero is another term, like cook, that will be familiar to fans of Masterchef: ‘your dish must hero the stone fruit’ (or the pork belly, or the pickled cucumber). In a culinary context it is related to the expression ‘the hero of the dish’, used from at least the mid-2000s. Even a humble ingredient can be a hero: ‘The toast in particular is heralded as the hero of the dish – chunky, grainy, and deliciously nutty.’ (Sunday Star-Times, Auckland, 5 May 2013) To hero as a verb has been used in marketing contexts for a couple of years, and has become commonplace in Australian cooking shows in 2015. It is crossing over into reality renovation shows too: ‘The kitchen is heroing the splashback.’

Hothatch in action. Source: topgear.com

Hothatch in action. Source: topgear.com

hot-hatch – a high-performance hatchback car. Do you long for a small fast car to hoon around in or take rallying? Perhaps one with a set of adjustable dampers, composite front springs, a limited-slip differential and a titanium exhaust, along with a lift-up rear door? Then the hot-hatch is your vehicle. The humble hatchback started life as a modestly-priced small car, with the term ‘hatchback’ first recorded in 1970. The potential for hotting up a small, economical car resulted in the hot-hatch, and the word entered the written record in the early 1980s.

hygiene factor – something (especially in a workplace) that will cause dissatisfaction by its absence, but does not itself increase satisfaction. The notion of hygiene factors has been around since the mid-20th century. It originated in American psychologist Frederick Herzberg’s ‘motivator-hygiene’ (or ‘two-factor’) theory of job satisfaction, which suggested that the factors motivating employees and providing job satisfaction were distinct from a set of things that made workers dissatisfied – the hygiene factors. A hygiene factor might be a badly designed office space, not enough leave entitlement, or poorly maintained bathroom facilities. Broadly speaking, Herzberg’s theory suggests that if a workplace takes care of the hygiene factors, employees will be less unhappy, but this alone will not increase job satisfaction.Today the theory may no longer be especially fashionable but the hygiene factor as a concept is still used, often in a more general sense, as in these Australian examples: ‘Consumers were not willing to pay any price for environmentally friendly products, but fuel efficiency became a “hygiene factor” essential to satisfaction.’ (Maroochy Journal, 20 May 2011)
‘A bachelor’s degree has become a hygiene factor for employment.’ (Australian, 6 November 2013)


The art of manspreading. Source: mamamia.com.au

manspreading – (with reference to men) taking up too much room on public transport, typically by spreading the legs wider than a single seat. Manspreading is one of several terms using ‘man’ as the first element in a humorous or ironic way; ‘man flu’ is an example, as is the recent word ‘mansplain’ (of a man, to explain something to a woman in a condescending way). Police have made the world’s first arrests for manspreading this month, on the New York subway. First recorded in December 2014.

mocktail – a non-alcoholic drink consisting of a blend of fruit juices or other soft drinks. In recent years the mocktail (itself a blend of ‘mock’ and ‘cocktail’) has become a popular alternative to the alcoholic cocktail in bars and restaurants. In Australia’s drinking culture it is increasingly acceptable to say no to alcohol in social situations, due in part to public education campaigns about drink-driving (see Sober Bob below.) As well, charity fundraisers such as ‘Dry July’ and ‘Febfast’, during which participants undertake to abstain from alcohol for a month, are gaining support. The mocktail is now more popular than ever, but the word has a long history. The first evidence appears in US use in 1936.

quaxing – transporting the shopping by means of bicycle, public transport, or on foot. Quaxing arose from a Twitter stoush early in January 2015 when a local government councillor in New Zealand, Dick Quax, tweeted in an exchange about sustainability: ‘no one in the entire Western world uses the train for their shopping trips’, followed by ‘the very idea that people lug home their supermarket shopping on the train is fanciful’. The exchange soon attracted the hashtag #quaxing, accompanied by images of people doing their shopping by any means other than a private car. The hashtag attracted attention around the world, and quaxing was suddenly a thing. Like many other fast-trending social media hashtags and memes, it may not prove to be a stayer.

Quaxing for the essentials.

Quaxing for the essentials.

rent-seeker – an individual, organisation, or company seeking greater profits by manipulating public policy or economic conditions, especially by securing beneficial subsidies, etc. This derogatory term was first recorded in an American source in 1974, and has been heard frequently in the Australian media in the last few years. As an example, a recent article on the Crikey website (April 2015) commented dismissively on a statement issued by ‘nine business rent-seeker and lobby groups … attacking both the Coalition and Labor for reform timidity. … All of this is just the usual hypocrisy and deception of the business lobby.’ Another recent piece noted that ‘double standards are the hallmarks of the rent seeker. Unfortunately, Australia is swarming with them …’. (The Daily Reckoning Australia, 19 May 2015)

Sober Bob – a designated driver; a person who abstains from alcohol at a social event soimgres-4 as to be fit to drive others home. This Australian term originates in a Northern Territory government campaign to reduce alcohol-related road accidents. The first Sober Bob campaign was run in 1997, and is now run annually to coincide with the festive season. In the 2014 ‘Who’s your Sober Bob‘ media release the Minister for Transport urges Territorians to have ‘a plan for how you’re going to get home before you head out.  Sober Bob doesn’t have to be someone you are out with,  they can be a bus driver, taxi driver, mum, brother, girlfriend, or uncle.’ There is now some evidence of the term in Queensland: ‘I’ve only denied one person a sober bob lift because I was watching a kick-ass western movie.’ (Western Times, Charleville, 24 July 2014)



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