Why ‘milkshake duck’ is the word of the year for an Australian dictionary

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 12:40am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 12:40am

Milkshake duck – a term born in the twittersphere that describes an overnight social media sensation whose viral support rapidly dissolves with closer scrutiny – was chosen Monday as an Australian dictionary’s word of 2017.

Macquarie Dictionary, the definitive authority on Australian English, defines a milkshake duck as: a person who is initially viewed positively by the media but is then discovered to have something questionable about them which causes a sharp decline in their popularity.

Australia’s response was that most had never heard of the term, which originated from the 2016 @pixelatedboat tweet: “The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the duck is racist.”

Macquarie’s committee said the milkshake duck phenomenon was familiar to Australians, even if the term was not.

Oxford Dictionaries names ‘youthquake’ as word of 2017, beating ‘milkshake duck’ and ‘white fragility’

“Milkshake duck stood out as being a much needed term to describe something we are seeing more and more of, not just on the internet but now across all types of media,” the committee said.

“It plays to the simultaneous desire to bring someone down and the hope that they won’t be brought down. In many ways it captures what 2017 has been about,” it added.

While coined in 2016, milkshake duck was not included in the dictionary until 2017.

The dictionary’s word of the year contest has long been open to constructions of two or more words. The word of 2016 was “fake news.”

‘Milkshake duck’ was also mooted as a possible word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries in December.

However, it eventually plumped for “youthquake,” meaning “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people”.