The Hobart

Winning Words

by Amanda Double
Winning Words

“There is great power in the knowing of a word. The controversial hypothesis of linguistic relativity holds that language shapes our perception of reality…Each generation receives language, uses and changes it, and teaches it to the next gen­eration, which builds on it anew.”

This quote is from the preamble to a fun new book a thoughtful friend gave me recently: Grandiloquent words: a pictoric lexicon of ostrobogulous locu­tions, by Jason Travis Ott (Countryman Press, 2023).

Ott presents his case that grandiose, pompous or antiquated (“grandiloquent”) words, far from having no place in modern society, are needed to thrill us with their old-style magic and often still strangely-relatable meanings: “The more words you know, the more tools you have to articulate accurately the world, the people around you, your experiences, and the way you feel.” In his book he includes such delightful words as “scurryfunge” (defined as “to rush around the house in a mad cleaning spree after learning that a visitor is coming” – I can certainly relate), “coddiwomple” (“to travel with a sense of purpose toward a vague destination as yet unknown”), and the verb “deliciate “ (“to indulge or delight in something enjoya­ble”). Look, far be it from me to want to be “lexiphanic” (“linguistically bombas­tic, inflated, pretentious, or turgid”), or indeed an “ultracrepidarian” (“a know-it-all who gives opinions on topics beyond one’s knowledge”), but I will admit I am a passionate “lexicomane” (”a person who loves dictionaries”).

Ott (also creator of a website, “Grandiloquent Word of the Day”) has provided a definition for each of these words, along with its ancient deriva­tion and its use in a sentence from an historical literary work, accompanied by a humorous drawing or engraving.

And to be honest, some of these arcane words may seem a little silly and over-the-top, and you wouldn’t want to use them too often in normal conversation if you wanted to retain your friends. But then I sometimes think that about some of the current officially-designated “Words of the Year” from our major dictionary centres as well. For example, Oxford selected as their Word of the Year for 2023 the term “rizz”- that is, the short­ened form of “charisma”. Defined as “pertaining to someone’s ability to attract another person through style, charm, or attractiveness, this term is from the middle part of the word ‘charisma’, which is an unusual word formation pattern.”

According to Oxford, “use of the word as recorded in our corpus has increased dramatically in 2023” – with an apparent peak in June 2023 when English actor Tom Holland declared in an interview that he had “no rizz whatsoever”.

The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2023 is also a shortened version of a well-known existing phrase: “cozzie livs” – a humorous colloquial play on “cost of living”. Says the Macquarie Committee: “Although cozzie livs was coined in the UK, it has resonated soundly with Australians, with its -ie suffix and its clipped formation…And what could be a more Australian approach to a major social and economic problem than to treat it with a bit of humour and informality?”

Well, I appreciate a cute contraction as well as the next person, but on this occasion I have to say that no-one I know in Hobart has ever used either of these shortened forms – except to express faint bewilderment upon their announcement as Words of the Year. I realise that by admitting this I’m revealing that I’m seriously uncool, not keeping up with the Zeitgeist. Or just moving in the wrong circles. Plus, well, I should really refer myself back to the preamble quote at the head of this page: “Each generation receives language, uses and changes it, and teaches it to the next generation, which builds on it anew.”

This has also prompted in me a sudden flashback to the classic scene in the 1987 cult comedy/fantasy film The Princess Bride, where the Vizzini character says it’s “inconceivable” that the pirate didn’t fall, and Inigo Montoya replies (in an oddly-lovable fake accent): “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Luckily, there is one winning Word of the Year for 2023 that I CAN really relate to: the Australian National Dictionary Centre’s 2023 Word of the Year, “Matildas”. To quote the Centre: “The soaring popularity of the Australian women’s soccer team after their semi-fi­nal run at this year’s Women’s FIFA World Cup has seen experts at The Australian National University (ANU) pick Matilda as their Word of the Year for 2023. The team name (Matildas, or Tillies for short) and singular form (Matilda) were everywhere as Matildas mania swept the country, with Australians transfixed by every minute of play.”

“Matilda” was one of the names used for a swag in Australia from the 1880s (made famous in our beloved alternative anthem, “Waltzing Matilda”). Director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, Dr Amanda Laugesen, has noted that “it’s only since the mid-1990s that the women’s soccer team has been called the Matildas, but after this year’s World Cup the word has once again cemented itself in the Australian lexicon.” The name is of Old Germanic origin, apparently meaning “mighty in battle” – and the mighty Matildas brought us together and inspired us all right when we needed it most. A fitting choice indeed for an Australian Word of the Year.

Love this

Close
Cold Water Wake Up Call
It seems everywhere I turn someone is talking about or participating in cold water swimming right now.
A Short Geelong Getaway
Since the Spirit of Tasmania terminal moved from Melbourne to Geelong late last year, a visit to Geelong has been on the radar.
27 Hobart Friends Get Snipping For One Off Wine
The borders were declared shut in Tasmania on the 30th of March, 2020; the first stare to do so amid the COVID- 19 pandemic and hard lockdown of Hobart followed.
Danphe Nepalese and Indian Food + Peppermint Bay Bar and Bistro
Nepalese food is a comfort in our house. Having spent much time trekking and mountain climbing in Nepal as a younger man, Nepalese food is something I always love to go back to.
That’s DR Hannah Gadsby To You
From Smithton to Netflix and the Emmys stage, Tasmanian stand up comic Hannah Gadsby has forged an unlikely path. Following on from the massive success of her shows Nanette and Douglas, Hannah brings her new show Body of Work to Hobart this month.
PODCAST: Incat founder Robert Clifford on why electric boats are the future
Robert Clifford is the founder of Incat, a Hobart company building fast ferries for the world. Always looking to future opportunities, he has identified where Hobart sits in the next wave of transportation. For more of this interview listen to The Hobart Magazine podcast.
Is Tourism Ready For More Forestry Wars?
Tasmanian forests are special. They’re home to centuries-old trees, including the tallest flowering trees on the planet, and support unique native species. Yet not everyone agrees on how these forests should be managed.
Hobart Chefs: When The Obsession Becomes Real
Tasmania’s brand as a foodie haven is cemented. But within the local hospitality industry there are those who love to use local produce...and those who are next-level obsessed with it. We spoke to a bunch of Hobart chefs who are top of the game when it comes to fostering relationships with local farmers and growers.
Did You Know Australia’s First Female Doctor Was Hobartian?
Tasmania, despite its small size and population in comparison to the mainland, has produced more than its proportionally predicted percentage of significant figures and heroes of Australian history. 
Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
Magazine
AboutContributeAdvertiseNewsletter Sign UpContact
May 2024

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Hobart Magazine.

Thank you to Luke Brokensha for mobilising his friends and local residents recently to host two rubbish clean ups along the Hobart Rivulet after heavy rains.
The warm weather returns...hello summer.
Need a laugh? Check out @theinspiredunemployed feed on Instagram.
Moto Vecchia Cafe in Bellerive and Czegs Cafe in Richmond have joined the Clarence City Council dementia program, creating dementia-friendly spaces for all patrons.
It’s hard to believe it’s not standard practice to have a working phone in every aged care room - shared phones make private conversations impossible and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tacks on the tracks. Mountain bikers beware of tacks being left on certain tracks on the mountain.
Just when you think your cousins are alright. NZ Opposition Leader Judith Collins took aim at Tassie during her recent (unsuccessful) campaign, calling us Australia’s “poor cousin.” She also seems worried about us nabbing tech businesses, “It’s a lovely part of the world but do you necessarily want to go there with your high- tech business? Possibly not,” she said. We beg to differ!