Macquarie WOTY: muffin top

Lynne Murphy m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Thu Jan 25 14:07:55 UTC 2007

Well, that rather puts a damper on my claim that it's an AmE word, doesn't


Can anyone antedate their 2005 Kath & Kim claim?


--On 24 January 2007 09:18 +0000 Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU> wrote:

> -----
> Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2006
> The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year Committee comprises:
> Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Professor Gavin Brown
>   Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney, Professor
> Stephen Garton
>   Publisher of the Macquarie Dictionary, Susan Butler.
> The results in each category were determined by voting on the
> Macquarie Dictionary website and were as follows:
> General Interest: affluenza
> Colloquialism: muffin top
> Specialist terms: administrivia
> The Political Scene: plausible deniability
> Eating and Drinking: ethical eating
> Fashion: ubersexual
> Travel: envirotourism
> Technology: cyberstalking
> The Environment: water trading
> Sport: blood doping
> Health: norovirus
> The Committee's choice of Word of the Year for 2006:
> muffin top
>  noun Colloquial the fold of fat around the midriff which, on an
> overweight woman, spills out over the top of tight-fitting pants or
> skirts.
> This seems to be an Australian creation which has spread around the
> world, carried on by the popularity of Kath and Kim. It made news in
> New York in 2005 and was one of the words nominated for the American
> Dialect Society's Word of the Year Most Creative section. It was
> pipped at the post by whale tail, the bit of the g-string or thong
> that shows above the waistband at the back of pants.
> The Committee thought that the vivid imagery of this word with its
> sense of playfulness and the fact that it is an Australianism made it
> the clear winner.
> The Committee would like to give honourable mention to:
> affluenza
>  noun the dissatisfaction that accompanies consumerism as a path to
> happiness.
> The definition which seems current for the rest of the world is 'the
> psychological malaise suffered by wealthy young people with symptoms
> of lack of motivation and feelings of guilt'. In Australia the meaning
> has been generalised to cover a widespread social phenomenon, not just
> a malaise of the rich.
> The Committee felt that this word framed a concept that was
> significant in the community and for which there was no other word.
> The coinage was neat, almost too neat, and, unlike many attempts at
> creating new words by blending, did lead to a reasonable grasp of the
> meaning from an analysis of its parts (affluent + influenza).
> administrivia
>   plural noun  the miscellaneous organisational details relating to
> the administration of a project, organisation, etc.
> This again is a blend, in this instance of administration and trivia,
> but trivia in the sense of miscellaneous and often seemingly unrelated
> detail. The word has been in use in some organisational circles for
> almost a decade but seems to have gained wider use in the community,
> perhaps in response to the feeling that more people now have to do
> their own administrivia rather than pass it on to someone else.
> plausible deniability
>  noun a carefully crafted situation in which a member of government
> can deny any association with any illegal or unpopular activities
> carried out by servants of the government in the event that these
> activities become public.
> This term was first used by the CIA in relation to their activities in
> the Kennedy Administration. It does seem to have become a key feature
> of the American, British and Australian governments over the last
> decade.
> -----

Dr M Lynne Murphy
Senior Lecturer and Head of Department
Linguistics and English Language
Arts B135
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN

phone: +44-(0)1273-678844

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list