The 2017 Australian Word of the Year was inspired by the Kiwis we like to claim as our own.

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.

The Australian National Dictionary Centre’s Word of the Year for 2017 is Kwaussie, a blend of Kiwi and Aussie.

Director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, based at The Australian National University (ANU), Dr Amanda Laugesen, said the word came to the Centre’s attention during the constitutional crisis over dual citizenship that engulfed parliament in 2017.

“Kwaussie was used to describe the most high-profile casualty of the crisis, Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Barnaby Joyce,” said Dr Laugesen

“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.

“In a time of covfefe, fake news, and tweetstorms, the Australian National Dictionary Centre has looked for a word of the year that is both lexically interesting and Australian.”

Kwaussie was chosen from a shortlist reflecting many of the events which shaped Australia’s political, cultural and social landscape in 2017.

The 2017 shortlist included:

  • makarrata: (in traditional Aboriginal culture) a ceremonial ritual that aims to restore peace after a dispute; a ceremony that symbolises such a restoration; an agreement;
  • jumper punch: (chiefly in Australian Rules) an illegal punch disguised as the action of grabbing hold of the opponent’s jumper;
  • postal survey: a survey conducted by post; especially in Australia in 2017, the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey;
  • robodebt: debt incurred as a result of the Department of Human Services automated data matching and debt recovery program; and
  • WAxit: a term for the potential or hypothetical departure of Western Australia from the Australian federation.

Dr Laugesen said the first evidence of Kwaussie was found in a 2002 New Zealand newspaper article discussing actor Russell Crowe.

“He was described as a Kwaussie – what you get when you cross a Kiwi who can’t decide whether they’re a Kiwi or an Aussie,” she said.

“Subsequent evidence suggests its use is predominantly Australian, 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.”

The 2017 Word of the Year and shortlist were selected by the editorial staff of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, which with Oxford University Press publishes the Australian National Dictionary of words and phrases unique to Australia.

The Australian National Dictionary Centre at the ANU undertakes research into Australian English in partnership with Oxford University Press (OUP), and edits Australian dictionaries for Oxford University Press.

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. OUP is the world’s largest university press with the widest global presence.

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