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‘Creativity’ is the word in 2018

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Oxford University Press’s 2018 Australian Children’s Word of the Year is ‘creativity’ with judges settling on the word of the year after appraising student submissions of a piece of writing based on a word they chose to reflect their lives and interests.

Their work of up to 500 words could be fiction or non-fiction, funny or serious, using a theme of their choosing and 'bravery', 'pollution', 'technology' and 'environment' were all strong contenders.

More than 500 entries were submitted by primary school and home-schooled children across rural, regional, and metropolitan Australia and the entries were evaluated based on a word’s popularity, use of the word in context and frequency, to determine the Australian Children’s Word of the Year for 2018.

Oxford University Press’s (OUP) ANZ director of School Publishing, Lee Walker, said the strong theme of ‘creativity’ in this year’s written submissions gave her confidence that this generation of children will have the skills to confront some of the world’s greatest challenges in new ways.

“This year’s children’s writing submissions were filled with imagination, insights, and possibilities. Children wrote of ‘magic hens’, ‘happy lands’, ‘adventurous snails,’ and many creative ideas linked to improving the world around them.

“Some of Australia’s greatest visionaries, such as Prof Graeme Clarke and Howard Florey, dared to imagine new concepts, inventions, and technologies that transformed the world we live in today. The originality and richness of the writing submitted illustrates that this generation has the potential to do the same,” Walker said.

“It’s evident when reviewing this year’s submissions that children are making excellent progress in the classroom. The communication of ideas and the quality of writing has been particularly impressive. This indicates a high level of student engagement, comprehension, and academic capability.”

Resilience and technology were also noted as strong themes in children’s writing, with recurring words including persistence, courage, and confidence, as well as some previously less common terms, such as meme, pixels, programming, and gaming. Fortnite was the most popular game mentioned.

Seven winning wordsmiths ranging from prep to year six, and one class winner from Victoria, will receive Oxford University Press book vouchers. All participants will be rewarded for their efforts with an age-appropriate free Oxford dictionary.

OUP ANZ is dedicated to recording Australian English and improving literacy. For more information about the competition visit the Children’s Word of the Year at

The judges

Lee Walker
Lee Walker is Director of School Publishing for Oxford University Press in Australia. She is also President of the Australian Publishers Association. Having worked in the Australian educational publishing industry for 27 years, she has extensive publishing experience in primary literacy and mathematics.

Mark Gwynn
Mark Gwynn is a researcher and editor at the Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) at the ANU. The ANDC edits Australian Oxford dictionaries for Primary and Secondary schools, and is Australia’s premier research centre on the Australian English lexicon. Gwynn is the editor of numerous dictionaries, including the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary and the Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary.

James Arvanitakis
Prof James Arvanitakis is Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Graduate Research School at Western Sydney University. He is also a lecturer in Humanities and a member of the University’s Institute for Cultural and Society. He recieved the Prime Minister’s University Teacher of the Year Award in 2012.

David Astle
David Astle is a full-time word nerd, making crosswords, writing columns, and penning more than 12 books, including Wordburger and The Gargantuan Book of Words. He is a regular presenter on ABC Radio Melbourne, as well as the language guru on ABC’s News Breakfast.

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