Phantom vibration syndrome: it's the word of the year...

JUST when you thought it was safe to put away the dictionary, Macquarie has announced phantom vibration syndrome as the Word of the Year 2012.

There were thousands of votes cast on the dictionary website in January in the user survey which closed on 3rd February 2013.

The overall winning word was selected by the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year Committee chaired by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence.

Phantom vibration syndrome is a noun to describe constant anxiety in relation to one's mobile phone and an obsessional conviction that the phone has vibrated in response to an incoming call when in fact it hasn't.

The committee thought that phantom vibration syndrome (which they suggest should be abbreviated to PVS in the spirit of the times) was an indication of how attached we have become to this technology which has had such an impact on all our lives.

They also enjoyed the self-deprecating tone of First World problem and acknowledged that it is frighteningly true how adept small children (technomites) are with new technology.

They thought that the origins of Aussie Rules in the Indigenous game marngrook should be recognised and observed the democratisation of knowledge and enterprising activity in the term crowdfunding.


The committee also gave honourable mention to:


Noun: the obtaining of small donations from individuals contacted through social networks, as to fund a project, support a cause, etc.


Noun (humorous): a young child who is adept in the use of digital media.


Noun: a type of football played by Aboriginal people of south-eastern Australia before European settlement, being characterised by large numbers of players covering a wide area of ground, a ball made from stuffed animal skin, and a style of play which involved dropping the ball onto the foot and kicking it, and leaping high above others to catch it; seen as an influence on Australian Rules. [in various Victorian Aboriginal languages: game ball]

First World problem

Noun: a problem that relates to the affluent lifestyle associated with the First World, that would never arise in the poverty-stricken circumstances of the Third World, as having to settle for plunger coffee when one's espresso machine is not functioning.


Category winners:

  • • Agriculture - peachcot
  • • Arts yarn- bombing
  • • Business - silo mentality
  • • Colloquial - wine flu
  • • Communications - phantom vibration syndrome
  • • Eating and Drinking - apera
  • • Environment - green tape
  • • Fashion - hobo glove
  • • General Interest - solidarity tourism
  • • Health - diabesity
  • • Internet - crowdfunding
  • • Politics - Sputnik moment
  • • Social Interest - First World problem
  • • Sport - marngrook
  • • Technology - technomite

For a full list of nominated words and their definitions, go to

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