Oxford Australian Children's
Word of the Year
Writing Competition

After countless hours reviewing hundreds of entries, Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand has announced its 2018 Children’s Word of the Year.


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.

Bravery, pollution, technology and environment were all strong contenders for Word of the Year. To find out what else was topical amongst Australian children, download the 2018 Children's Word of the Year summary report below.

Looking for the UK Children's Word of the Year? Click here.

What do Australian children enjoy writing about?

Download our Children's Word of the Year summary report and find out what else was topical amongst Australian children.

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Thoughts from the judges

“It was pleasing to see the words 'creativity' and 'creative' feature so prominently in children's responses this year. The responses reveal the absolute joy that children find in all manner of creative endeavours – writing stories, making things, inventing games, drawing and painting, dancing, and playing music.

- Mark Gwynne

“Creativity has become the skill that we are all speaking about. It can be used to confront some of the world's greatest challenges in new ways – and this is our hope for this generation."

- James Arvanitakis

The theme 'creativity' came through strongly in children's writing samples from all over Australia. The children's writing submissions show us how motivated they are to think about the world and how best to express their individuality.

- Lee Walker

The winners:

Nirbhay S.

Craigieburn Primary School (VIC)
Word: funny

The Magic Hen

Far away from the city there was a funny farm called Charm. There lived a pig who was fat. He wore a funny hat. There was a horse who liked to jump and bump. I call him Mr. Pump. There was a hen who does magic with sneeze. I call her Miss Breeze. Every time she sneezes, her egg disappears. Miss Breeze was eating dinner, a fly buzzed on her nose. ‘Aatishoo!’ she sneezed. Her food disappeared! She chuckled. One day a scary wolf came on the farm. He saw a coop from the nook. He sneaked and scared the hen. The hen jumped on the bed. Wolf’s eyes were red. He growled, ‘I will eat chicken with bread.’ The pig, the horse and the fly saw the wolf. The fly has an idea and she buzzed the hen’s nose. ‘Aatishoo!’ she sneezed and the wolf disappeared. All the animals were amused with surprise. They said the fly is so wise. Miss Breeze smiled and said it’s a very lucky day. Everybody did a happy, funny dance on the farm called Charm.

Ryan L.

Narangba Valley State School (QLD)
Word: superhero

Intergalactic Boy

Once upon a time, there was a boy called Ryan. Ryan was a year one student in LA. He really liked space and superheroes. One day Ryan was in the school science lab. When the scientist was doing an experiment, the chemicals were spilt on him! A few minutes later Ryan got up. At lunchtime his best friends Amelia and Sienna played superheroes with Ryan. When Ryan pretended to shoot a laser from his hand, it shot a real one! Amelia and Sienna were very surprised. Ryan told them not to tell anyone so they didn’t. A few weeks later, Ryan, because he was a genius, he decided he was going to make a rocket. The reason why Ryan made a rocket was to go into space as a space astronaut. When it was time to load the space astronauts, Ryan was very excited. A few hours later, the rocket landed on the moon. Ryan said to the other astronauts he would go first and they thought that was fine. But as soon as Ryan touched the moon he didn’t feel himself. He felt strong and powerful not weak and powerless. After a while, Ryan said ‘I want to go back to Earth’, so the astronauts said ‘okay’ and ‘it’ll take three days to get back’. Ryan didn’t want it to be three days but something bad happened. Ryan’s space helmet fell off but for some reason it didn’t affect him! Ryan knew why it didn’t affect him, because of his super powers from the chemical reaction earlier that week. When he got back to Earth he made a costume and hero name. His hero name was Intergalactic Boy and on his costume there was a crime detector. He tried his costume on and the crime detector beeped. There was a crime happening at the playground in Rowley Road. Then Intergalactic Boy saw the super villain – his name was Tornado.
‘Ready for me to take over the world?’
‘No way, you’re not going to take over the world, and I am not a stranger in a costume, I’m Intergalactic Boy!’
They both had a big fight. Finally Ryan could rest.

The End.

Max W.

St. Ives North Public School (NSW)
Word: Minecraft

Diary of a Minecraft Pro

The Lost Temple! Boom! Boom! Boom! Steve was just pranking MeDaNoob with TNT. MeDaNoob was not impressed and ran away. When Steve finally finished, he decided to find the Lost Temple. Steve searched and searched but couldn’t find anything! At last he got a glimpse of rock and followed it. Soon enough, Steve had found the Lost Temple. He explored it straight away. It had lava, monsters, chests and everything! But the problem was that it had lots of parkour! So it was like a huge obstacle course with crazy jumps, powerful pistons, boiling red steaming lava and mind-boggling mazes, and bulging buttons where if you pressed the wrong one, you got blown up with a Creeper!
But Steve was no chicken….he was brave and cunning! He knew just what to do. First he had to jump onto the cobblestones and he dodged the powerful pistons and he made it to the first mind-boggling maze…because there was not one but three of these mazes – far out! Steve used the compass from his inventory to guide his way through – he bolted through in 2 minutes flat! ‘Hey, a new world record! That’s pretty awesome!’
After a few more obstacles, he got to the last obstacle. He had to jump up cobblestones two at a time in the air, if he missed, he’d fall in lava! Steve was at the 17th cobblestone and he almost falls…but someone grabs his hand just…in…time! It’s Alex! Alex is a long-lost friend from the Mines.
‘Geez man! Where have you been?’
Alex replies, ‘I have been stuck in the Mines for 5 years!’, sounding relieved to be out of the Mines.
‘Well, I’m glad you turned up when you did, otherwise I’d be lavasoup by now!’
After Steve got out of the Lost Temple, they decided to go under the sea.
Close Encounter with a Toothy Beast
Just when Steve and Alex got to the water’s edge, they saw a pod of dolphins circling something big and grey. They decided to investigate! As they swam closer, the big grey object became clearer. It was a Mako Shark! Alex turned to Steve, his face was as white as snow and he looked like he was going to poop his pants!
‘Come on Alex, don’t be a scaredy cat – stay close to me and you’ll be safe,’ whispered Steve. Steve was scared too but he didn’t tell Alex that. Just then, the shark whacks the dolphins away with its mighty tail and heads towards…Steve and Alex. Uh oh! Steve quickly searches his inventory for his underwater scooter. Steve yells to Alex, ‘Quick! Grab on! Let’s get outta here!’
Steve and Alex were speeding through the water and away from the massive fish they went. Suddenly, ‘putt putt putt’ – the engine clogs up with kelp from the seabed. The shark is getting closer…and CLOSER. Steve and Alex looked to each other. ‘This is not good,’ says Steve. They see the colossal amount of teeth as the shark opens his jaws…TO BE CONTINUED.

Goldie L.

Scotch College Adelaide (SA)
Word: bravery

Bravery is when you are not scared of anyone or anything. Bravery can make you face your fears and do it. Bravery can help you at any time or anywhere. Bravery can build up your confidence. My brother Rory Laird plays for AFL. I think he has a lot of bravery for just going out there in front of a massive crowd. When he finished a game “Good game!”.

Also bravery can help you express your feelings to people. Bravery can help you with everything. Bravery lets you be free and do what you want to do, not letting other people tell you all the time. Bravery can help you with your courage with writing, sports and other things you do. Bravery helps me with all my work at school. It helps everyone with these things. You can do a lot of things with Bravery.
Bravery is a feeling inside of you. Bravery is mostly in your heart and in your brain. Everyone has bravery inside of them. It is in your heart inside of you somewhere and it might take some courage to find it. You will always have it. You can have it with you all of the time because everyone will know you are brave. Everyone will have bravery in the brain. These are ways to be brave:
1. Always do what you want safely!
2. Face your fears!
3. Do not let other people get in your way!
You do what you want and this is important do not let other people get in your way. Let yourself express your heart and feelings. Here is a little story about a boy being brave!!
One Sunday morning a little boy went to the beach. He had an older sister and she loved going on the jetty at the beach. The little boy was too scared to go onto the jetty. His older sister teased him and said, “you are scared na, na, na, na, na”. He said, “I am going on it”. So he did. He walked up the wooden stairs. He said to himself, “be brave, be brave”. So he did it and he took a big breath and he jumped off of the jetty and into the sea. He loved it and yelled “I love this!” He did it again and again and again. He came home and said to his Dad “I jumped off the jetty”. “Well done,” said his Dad. And then he proudly thought about the fun he had on the jetty.
This is the reason I chose this the word Bravery. Remember do not let other people say “you can’t do that, that is impossible or you can never do that”. Do not listen to them. You do what you want anytime or anywhere. Do not think about the negatives, think about the positives then you will be a superhero and you will be a nice person and you will have more friends. You will have a happy life with happy friends.


Unley Primary School (SA)
Word: psycho

It was 8:00 in the morning and Jeffrey the psycho was plotting world domination or something that would ruin everybody else’s lives. Jeffrey had been miserable lately, since his last evil plan had been foiled by his arch-nemesis, Zook!

Zook has been chilling in his five-star hotel, eating Tim the pickle in his free movie theatre. While Jeffrey has been numbing his brain tinkering in his workshop to develop a new weapon – a sub-atomic nuclear bomb that he plans to launch into the Pacific Ocean, exploding and creating a huge tsunami that will pretty much wreak havoc on everything and drown everything in sight. Pretty much, he had a foolproof plan that couldn’t be stopped by anything, not even Zook. Two months later, Jeffrey’s plan had been foiled yet again, and now he was getting seriously depressed. His evil butler, Partyface, tried everything to get him out of his slump. He even resorted to Wednesday night Zumba classes, which Jeffrey never went to. Eventually he went to Zumba…and actually liked it! In fact, he loved it so much he even got out of his slump and stopped being a villain!

Olivia A.

Lyndhurst Primary School (VIC)
Word: family

Crunch, crunch went the dead leaves under my broken gumboots in the spooky forest. The sun was beginning to set over the mountains. I was all alone and missing out on school, stuck in his deserted, old, creepy forest. I was getting tired and I had been separated from my dad for a long time. I was heading towards where I often played. Pitter patter, pitter patter, there was the rain. It landed on my cap and dripped down my backpack. I ran for comforting shelter. Reaching the front porch of the house, I turned and looked at the rain falling fast. The house was as scary as a clown screaming. Whoosh. The old creaky door blew open. I spun around and stumbled through the door, crashing into the mantel, which was cluttered with old family photos that Dad and I had put together. Smash! I jumped. ‘Hello, who’s there?’ my voice quivered. But it was just a photo that had fallen from the mantel. As I walked down the narrow hall, the timber groaned under my feet. I could hear ‘Tay, Taay, Taaay, Taaaay, Taaaaay’ echoing down the halls. ‘Is this place haunted?’ I wondered out loud. As I wandered further down the hall, someone suddenly emerged from the room. ‘EEEEK,’ I screamed.
‘It’s okaaaay,’ replied the ghost, ‘I’m Taaaay.’
‘Why are you here?’ I stammered.
‘Weeeell I was having a picnic with my parents,’ Tay began to cry, ‘then the deadly ghost came. He took me awaaaay.’ Tay stopped, unable to continue. I was in shock.
‘I think I should be heading home,’ I said.
‘Nooooooooo,’ screamed Tay. Tay’s scream was as loud as ten lions roaring!
‘What’s wrong?’ I questioned.
‘You can’t leeeeeave,’ Tay’s voice softened. There was a moment of silence, it was as quiet as the middle of the night. Then it dawned on me.
‘I got it,’ I said loudly. The whole room suddenly filled with life. ‘Why don’t you come home with me?’ I questioned.
Tay was gobsmacked with the generous offer. ‘Are you for reeeeeal? ‘Cause if you are, yes pleeeease,’ replied Tay.
Scratch, scratch, scratch went the trees against our arms, as we rushed through the forest. We stopped dead in our tracks – which way were we to go? All of a sudden, we saw a shadow. We hid quickly behind an old tree, holding our breath but the person saw us hiding. I squeezed my eyes tightly shut, not daring to open them. Then I heard a familiar voice – it was my dad. As soon as he saw Tay with me, he burst into tears.
‘Taylor, is that really you?’ said my dad, slowly pulling out a picture identical to the one that had fallen from the mantel.
‘Yeeees’ replied Taylor, ‘I miiiiiissed you, can I come hoooome with you?’ Taylor asked.
‘Of course,’ her brother, my dad, sobbed. We knew that family would always be near.

Preet C.

Westbourne Grammar School (VIC)
Word: secrets

I could hear the snores from my little sister Cassiel. I got up from my bed and walked over to where she was sleeping so peacefully. I tucked her short, red hair behind her ears and kissed her on the forehead. I was the only family she had left. Our mum and dad died in a fire that burned our whole village to the ground. The worst part about this is the fact that our King Raven didn’t care that the outlying villages were living in poverty and were so close to death’s cold grasp. He only cared about his vaults that were filled with gold. When our parents died, Cassiel was only three years old while I was eleven. I had to be the adult. I couldn’t let the organization take us, because they were abusive, so I decided to hide us both in a cave near the Valley. We have everything we ever needed there. I got ready and I went out into the cold morning fog and climbed over the boulder and into the Meg. I retrieved my long silver dagger. I knew where I was going to go. Before my mother died she told me that the blue lake will be the place all my secrets will be unravelled and that I must go there. I decided it was time to go into the lake.

I hiked along the river, occasionally stopping to admire the nature. I bent down and touched the ice-cold water and my eyes almost popped out of their sockets when I saw my reflection. I didn’t recognise that girl anymore. She had short, black hair, sharp, angular cheekbones and eyes so blue they could electrify you from miles away. Her blue crystal necklace made her look so distant. This isn’t anything like the chubby girl with the wide, curious eyes. I was different.

I finally reached the blue lake. I edged closer towards it. I gasped. Underneath the lake were hundreds of tiny blue crystals, the same type of crystal that was around my neck. Without thinking, I dived in. It was almost magical. All the colours swirled around me. Suddenly, my pendant glowed and a familiar voice boomed out from all directions. It wasn’t any voice. It was my mother’s.
‘Valkyrie, you have magic in your blood. We started living in the outlying villages, so the king wouldn’t find out about you. I’m still alive and safe, so don’t worry about me. I’m so sorry I left you and Cassiel alone. Please forgive me. You are a warlock. A powerful being who can harness magic safely. I have to go now. I’ll see you soon.’ Then it was darkness.
I swam to the shore and heaved myself onto the side. It took me a minute to get my head right. There were three things I was positive about: first, my mum was alive, second, she was safe, and third, I was a warlock.

The End.

Year 6 – Ms. Cameron's class

Westbourne Grammar School (VIC)

Angela C. Arjun S. Christian C. Clare A. David L.
Emma D. Evan P. Georgia B. Harry M. Jordan K.
Laura W. Luca Z. Oliver S. Olivia C. Rayann H.
Rory T. Samadhi S. Shaurya P. Sienna A. Stephanie S.
Taylah F. Tyler C. Vanya S. Vincent N. Zahra N.

Meet our judges

Thank you to our expert judges, who provided commentary on the most significant words used by the students who entered. If you'd like to read these special comments, download our summary report above.

David Astle is a full-time word nerd, making crosswords, columns and over 12 books, including Wordburger and The Gargantuan Book of Words. David is a regular presenter on ABC Radio Melbourne, as well as the language guru on ABC’s News Breakfast. You may also recognise David as the dictionary man on SBS’s Letters and Numbers.

Professor James Arvanitakis is the Dean 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. James was the founding Head of The Academy at Western Sydney University that received an Australian Financial Review higher education excellence award (2016) and the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue Excellence in Education Award (2017). He is internationally recognised for his innovative teaching style and was the recipient of the Prime Minister’s University Teacher of the Year Award in 2012 and an Eminent Researcher Award from the Australia India Education Council in 2015. His research areas include citizenship, resilience, trust and the future of universities and James has authored over 100 articles and several books. He is a regular media commentator appearing on ABC TV.

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

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

The competition

What is the Oxford Australian Children’s Word of the Year?

The word is a result of an Australia-wide writing competition in which students from Grade Prep to Grade 6 submit a piece of free writing up to 500 words based on a chosen word. The writing can be creative or factual, funny or serious. A judging panel, consisting of academics and experts in children’s English language, evaluate the competition entries based on a word’s popularity, use of the word in context, and frequency, to determine the Australian Children’s Word of the Year.

What is the process for submitting an entry?

Primary school students from their Foundation/Prep to Grade 6 are invited to write about a word that best reflects their lives and interests today, whether in the playground or wider community. We envisage these entries to inform us of the words and themes that spark interest and inspiration in the everyday lives of Australian children. With this in mind, we look forward to receiving submissions from primary school students in rural, regional and metropolitan Australia.

What are the criteria for judging?

From over 700 entries completed in September 2017, the shortlist and Australian Children’s Word of the Year were chosen. The judges of the competition represented the Australian National Dictionary Centre, Oxford University Press, teachers and academics. Each was presented with lists of the most common words and themes from all of the entries, and after reading the entries, provided their feedback on the most significant words used by the children. In 2018, the first 1000 students who submitted a story received a free Oxford dictionary matched to their year level. Prizes were awarded to the best story judged in each year level F–Year 6 as well as to the class with the best submissions.

Children's Word of the Year:


The word is a result of an Australia-wide writing competition in which students from Grade Prep to Grade 6 submitted a piece of free writing up to 500 words based on a chosen word. The writing could be creative or factual, funny or serious. A judging panel, consisting of academics and experts in children’s English language, evaluated competition entries based on a word’s popularity, use of the word in context, and frequency, to determine the Australian Children’s Word of the Year. Equality was used in the entries to refer to a wide range of issues, including racial, gender, marriage, sporting, pay, disability rights and even sibling equality. It was included in both fictional and non-fiction writing.

The process

OUP invited primary school students from their Foundation/Prep year to Grade 6 to write about a word that best reflected their lives and interests today, whether in the playground or wider community. Students from primary schools in rural, regional and metropolitan Australia provided their entries, informing OUP of the words and themes that interested, inspired and concerned them in their everyday lives.

From over 700 entries completed in September 2017, the shortlist and Australian Children’s Word of the Year were chosen. The judges of the competition represented the Australian National Dictionary Centre, Oxford University Press, teachers and academics. They were presented with lists of the most common words and themes from all of the entries, and after reading the entries, they provided their feedback on the most significant words used by the children.

 Individual winners:

Prep Jessica C. from Sacre Coeur School (VIC)
Year 1 Arye from Anzac Terrace Primary School (WA)
Year 2 Ella V. from Sacre Coeur School (VIC)
Year 3 Olivia from Belmont Christian College (NSW)
Year 4 Maya from Moriah College (NSW)
Year 5 Jack from Immanuel Primary School (SA)
Year 6 Chloe from Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School (VIC)

Class winners:

Prep Sacre Coeur School (VIC)
Year 1 Red Hill Consolidated School (VIC)
Year 2 Pulteney Grammar School (SA)
Year 3 Wingham Brush Public School (NSW)
Year 4 Camberwell Girls Grammar (VIC)
Year 5 5K – Immanuel Primary School (SA)
Year 6 6C – Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School (VIC)