'Kwaussie' is Australia's word of the year - and lots of people are asking if anyone's heard of it

Kwaussie! Kwaussie! Kwaussie! Choice! Choice! Choice! Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, who returns to parliament today after winning a by-election for his old seat of New England on the weekend following the dual citizenship debacle, is the inspiration behind the Australian National Dictionary Centre’s (ANDC) word of the year – “kwaussie”.

The ANDC defines the term as “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” – an issue that rose to national prominence this year when Joyce was booted from parliament by the High Court because he had Kiwi citizenship by descent from his New Zealand-born father.

New Zealand-born former Greens senator Scott Ludlam resigned from parliament because he too was a “kwaussie”.

But announcing the centre’s choice for word of the year had plenty of journalists – the people closest to the action when it comes to politics and words – scratching their heads, with most (including this writer) saying they’d never heard it before.

The ANDC says first evidence is found in a 2002 New Zealand newspaper article discussing Russell Crowe, and “subsequent evidence suggests its use is predominantly Australian, and is found chiefly in social media”. There are also alternative spellings of kwozzie and kwozzy.

The centre’s other shortlisted words were:

  • “makarrata” – a Yolngu word from north-eastern Arnhem Land, which rose to prominence at the First Nations National Constitutional Convention’s ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’, which called for a Makarrata Commission. It’s a ceremonial ritual that aims to restore peace after a dispute.
  • “jumper punch” – an AFL description of an illegal punch disguised as the action of grabbing hold of the opponent’s jumper.
  • “postal survey” -after the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.
  • “robodebt” – from the federal government’s controversial Department of Human Services automated data matching and debt recovery program.
  • “WAxit” – a term for the potential departure of Western Australia from the Australian federation.

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