Macquarie Dictionary

The Macquarie Dictionary (/məˈkwɒri/) is a dictionary of Australian English. It is generally considered by universities and the legal profession to be the authoritative source on Australian English.[1] It also pays considerable attention to New Zealand English. Originally it was a publishing project of Jacaranda Press, a Brisbane educational publisher, for which an editorial committee was formed, largely from the Linguistics department of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.[2] It is now published by Macquarie Dictionary Publishers, an imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd. In October 2007 it moved its editorial office from Macquarie University to the University of Sydney,[3] and later to the Pan Macmillan offices in the Sydney central business district.

Macquarie Dictionary
Eighth edition cover.jpg
The Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition
LanguageAustralian English, New Zealand English
PublisherMacquarie Dictionary Publishers
Publication date
1981, 1991, 1997, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017, 2020
Media typePrint, digital

In addition to its two-volume flagship dictionary, shorter editions including the Macquarie Shorter Dictionary, Macquarie Concise Dictionary, Macquarie Budget Dictionary and Macquarie Little Dictionary are published.


The first seven editions of the Macquarie Dictionary were edited by lexicographer Susan Butler, who joined the project in 1970 as a research assistant, and was its chief editor by the time the first edition was published in 1981. Butler retired as the Macquarie's editor in March 2018 after 48 years with the publisher.[4]

First EditionEdit

The original version of the Macquarie Dictionary was based on Hamlyn's Encyclopedic World Dictionary of 1971, which in turn was based on Random House's American College Dictionary of 1947,[5] which was based on the 1927 New Century Dictionary, which was based on The Imperial Dictionary of the English Language, which itself was based on Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language second edition of 1841.[2]

Since its first publication in 1981,[2] its use has grown so that it has come to rival longer-established dictionaries from elsewhere in the English-speaking world as a standard authority on the English language within Australia.[6]

Second EditionEdit

The second edition was published in 1991 and introduced encyclopaedic content to many entries.

The Macquarie Dictionary Fifth Edition
The Macquarie Dictionary Sixth Edition

Third EditionEdit

The third edition, published in 1997, made use of an in-house corpus of Australian writing, Ozcorp, to add a large number of examples of Australian usage, to give some of the flavour of an historical dictionary. This edition also gave a good coverage of English in Asia.

Fourth EditionEdit

The fourth edition, published in 2005, increases the number of citations, includes etymologies for many phrases and pays particular attention to Australian regionalisms.

Fifth EditionEdit

The fifth edition was published in October 2009[7] and places particular emphasis on words relating to the environment and climate change.

Sixth EditionEdit

The sixth edition was published in October 2013[8] and includes an update of new words and senses as well as words and phrases from other varieties of English that impinge on Australian English, such as British English, American English and English in Southeast Asia, China and India.[9]

Seventh EditionEdit

The seventh edition of the Macquarie Dictionary was published on 28 February 2017.[10][11] With a foreword by Kate Grenville, this latest edition includes thousands of new words and senses along with Australian regionalisms and a collection of words from the Australian experience in WW1.[12]

Eighth EditionEdit

The eighth edition of the Macquarie Dictionary was published on 28 July 2020.[13] With a foreword by Kim Scott, the Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition features 3500 new entries, including up-to-date entries on the COVID-19 pandemic.[14]

Preferred spellingsEdit

The dictionary records standard Australian English spelling, which is closer to British than American spelling, with spellings like colour, centre, defence and practice/practise (noun/verb). It gives -ise spellings first, listing -ize spellings as acceptable variants, unlike the Oxford English Dictionary and some other dictionaries of British English, which continue to prefer -ize to -ise in spite of the opposite tendency amongst the British general public (see Oxford spelling). Labour, however, is sometimes spelt labor, especially in reference to the Australian political party. One difference from British spelling is the word program, which the Macquarie Dictionary gives as the preferred spelling.[15]


Word of the YearEdit

Each year the editors select a short-list of new words added to the dictionary, and invite the public to vote on their favourite. The public vote is held in January and results in the People's Choice winner. There is also a word selected by a committee.

Word for Word podcastEdit

In Word for Word, the team behind the Macquarie Dictionary explores the surprising history behind everyday words and phrases, goes behind the scenes with the dictionary editors, and meets some of Australia's most interesting word lovers, from Scrabble champions to hip-hop artists.


A number of smaller versions are available, including a pocket edition, as well as companion volumes such as a thesaurus. The latest edition of the main complete version of the Macquarie Dictionary is the eighth, published in 2020. Both the complete dictionary and a student dictionary are available as iOS applications.

Macquarie Dictionary OnlineEdit

The Macquarie Dictionary Online is the most comprehensive and up-to-date version of the dictionary available, with new words, phrases, and definitions added twice annually. It has the greatest coverage of encyclopaedic and non-encyclopaedic entries across the Macquarie range, as well as offering spoken pronunciations. Subscriptions are available to the complete version as well as a student version.


The Macquarie Dictionary is available in two IOS app editions, the Macquarie Dictionary Complete app, and the Macquarie School Dictionary app.


  1. ^ "Reference". University of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 2015-01-03.
  2. ^ a b c Richards, Kel (2015-03-01). The Story of Australian English. NewSouth. ISBN 9781742241906.
  3. ^ "Macquarie Dictionary, uni split amicably". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
  4. ^ "Take a bow, Sue Butler". Word for Word. Macquarie Dictionary. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  5. ^ Coulthard, Malcolm; Johnson, Alison (2010-03-30). The Routledge Handbook of Forensic Linguistics. Routledge. ISBN 9781136998720.
  6. ^ Kachru, Braj; Kachru, Yamuna; Nelson, Cecil (2009-02-17). The Handbook of World Englishes. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781405188319.
  7. ^ "News | The University of Sydney". Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  8. ^ "Macquarie update: new words for a new age". Illawarra Mercury. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  9. ^ "Macquarie Dictionary Seventh Edition". Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  10. ^ "Macquarie Dictionary Seventh Edition". Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  11. ^ Nieuwenhuizen, Agnes (August 9, 2014). "A timely word from the wise, Susan Butler". The Australian. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  12. ^ "Macquarie Dictionary Seventh Edition". Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  13. ^ "Macquarie Dictionary Eighth Edition - Pan Macmillan AU". Pan Macmillan Australia.
  14. ^ "Macquarie Dictionary".
  15. ^ "Macquarie Dictionary Search Word program". Macmillan Publishers Group Australia. 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2015.

External linksEdit