“Milkshake duck”, which is technically two words, has just been named the Macquarie Dictionary’s 2017 Word of the Year—after narrowly failing to claim the title from the Oxford and Australian National dictionaries.
You've probably come across milkshake duck at some point. A creation of popular Twitter user @pixelatedboat, it describes the common social media phenomenon where a previously unknown figure goes viral for an act of heroism or cuteness or hilarity, only to be quickly and devastatingly revealed to have some horrific moral failing.
Here’s the original tweet:
“Even if you don’t know the word, you know the phenomenon,” Macquarie explains in a press release today.
“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. 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.”
Macquarie also contemplated how the milkshake duck phenomenon, while recognisable throughout the internet, might have a uniquely Australian origin story:
“There is a hint of tall poppy syndrome in there, which we always thought was a uniquely Australian trait, but has been amplified through the internet and become universalised.”
The Word of the Year title is a triumph for milkshake duck, after it lost out to some extremely puzzling choices in December—Oxford Dictionary’s “Youthquake”, and Australian National Dictionary’s “Kwaussie”. Two words that most people heard for the very first time upon reading the news stories which proclaimed them to be the most popular catchphrases of 2017.
Melbourne-based @pixelatedboat is yet to be milkshake ducked himself, although one of his tweets—a satirical excerpt from Trump White House inside scoop Fire and Fury—did recently go viral when it became fake news and was reported on by multiple mainstream outlets as truth.
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