Now the lexicon standoff

Negotiating the impasse between Congress and the White House, President Barack Obama could do no worse than thumb the new print edition of The Macquarie Dictionary.

The phrase fiscal cliff, business-speak for the national debt crisis, has made it into the dictionary for the first time, as has silo mentality, a derogatory term he could throw at his political opponents.

The President might sign off with the ubiquitous texting interjection: LOL – laugh out loud – or YOLO – you only live once.

Alternatively, he could grab hold of the Australian surfer word, hozzo, to describe his budget woes.

Author Kathy Lette’s 1987 book, Girls’ Night Out, describes her character riding a bone-snapping wave by that name. The word has steadily gained wider currency in Australia’s coastal fringes.

The sixth print edition of the Macquarie is out, and this comprehensive record of English as spoken in Australia has plundered the internet and pop culture for new entrants to the home-grown lexicon.

Making its first appearance is bush doof, a music spree held somewhere remote, where the music is played at deafening volume. This term draws from the Australianism for dance music, which is defined as ”any of various genres of pop music with a strong beat, designed for dancing at nightclubs, dance parties, etc”.

The dictionary’s publisher and editor, Susan Butler, has tracked the use of fiscal cliff to The New York Times in 1957, when it was used to describe home owners pushed to their financial limits, but modern elaborations of the expression now suggest an unstoppable disaster. ”It might even conjure up the image of lemmings all hurling themselves off the cliff,” she says. From the internet, The Macquarie Dictionary has adopted the phrases mummy blog, social reading, crowdfunding and citizen science.

Mummy porn, erotic fiction aimed at women, owes its inclusion to the bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.

Fashion has given us the fingerless hobo gloves, our high-carb lifestyle diabesity.

Anxiety over climate change has us riding a blue revolution of technological developments in agriculture so as to increase food production.

Envirocrime covers garbage dumping, graffiti spraying and vandalism.

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