Prime Minister Scott Morrison inspires 2018 Word of the Year – ‘Canberra bubble’

Canberra bubble: the insular environment of federal politics

In a year of political turmoil the Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) has announced that the 2018 Word of the Year is ‘Canberra bubble’.

Director of the centre, based at The Australian National University (ANU), Dr Amanda Laugesen, said the expression came to the centre’s attention due to its use by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Politics is always a great contributor to our language,” Dr Laugesen said.

“Canberra bubble is a term that increased in usage significantly through 2018, and it was noticeable that this year Prime Minister Scott Morrison used ‘Canberra bubble’ to define his politics.

“However, critics point out that the Prime Minister is very much inside the Canberra bubble.

“I think it also reflects the notion that across Australia there is some disenchantment with politics, and that politicians are more preoccupied with the goings-on in Canberra than the everyday concerns of Australians.”

‘Canberra bubble’ was chosen ahead of a shortlist of words and expressions which gained prominence in Australia throughout 2018.

The shortlist included:

  • bag rage ‘anger provoked in a customer by the removal of free plastic bags at the checkout’
  • blockchain ‘a system in which records are maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network, used especially for cryptocurrency transactions’
  • drought relief ‘financial or practical assistance given to those in special need or difficulty due to severe drought conditions’
  • fair dinkum power ‘dispatchable energy; coal, as contrasted with renewable sources of energy’
  • NEG ‘National Energy Guarantee; a regulatory obligation imposed on energy companies to provide a reliable supply of energy while meeting emissions reduction targets’

For more information on the Word of the Year, see:

The 2018 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 Australia and New Zealand, and edits Oxford’s Australian dictionaries.

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.


Dr Amanda Laugesen
Director, ANU Australian National Dictionary Centre
T: 02 6125 0474
M:0412 741 551


Aaron Walker
ANU Media
T: 02 6125 7979
M: 0418 307 213

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