After countless hours reviewing hundreds of entries, Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand has announced its 2017 Children’s Word of the Year.

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.

If you'd like to read a summary of the findings, we invite you to download our summary report.

 Individual winners:

One day there was a princess who lived in a diamond castle. One day a robber came and took some diamonds and then she realised some diamonds were missing! So she packed her bag to chase after the robber! She went over a bridge and she went up a mountain and said ‘I found you; please can you give me back the diamonds?’ The robber said NO. So in the night she took the diamonds back and she lived happily ever after.

Once upon a time there was a young fox. The fox had a beautiful wooden carriage. One sunny day the fox went in her carriage to a faraway castle. In the castle there was an evil dragon! It was big and scaly. The fox was very scared. When the fox got to the castle, the dragon was very angry! It did not like foxes because foxes steal food. So she hid in a blueberry bush. But the dragon spotted the fox and made her a prisoner in the castle. The fox was too clever and too fast and she escaped out of the window and ran all the way home.

The Dark Shadow Power
One day there lived a 19 year old girl called Tracy with her dog, Marla. They explored every country except the North Pole. Everybody in the city told a story – in fact, a real one! It was about a man called Pitch who hides in shadows and steals children and pets. One day Tracy and Marla trusted their instincts and went to the North Pole!

When they got there they saw a small house with a GIANT factory behind it. Tracy was curious to go inside so they did. Then they heard a sound that said ‘welcome to Santa’s warehouse – I am Santa.’ He came downstairs. Tracy and Marla looked at each other. Then Tracy said, ‘hi I am Tracy, nice to meet you.’ In Tracy’s shadow there stood Pitch listening to them to see what they were talking about. Then BOOM BOOM BOOM.

‘HELLO,’ said a scary voice. Then…BOOOOOM! The person entered the room. Tracy was so scared so Marla tried to protect her by barking. Then…he disappeared. Marla, Tracy and Santa all looked at each other saying ‘what was that?!’ Then Tracy said ‘do you know him, Santa?’
‘No! Wait, yes!’
‘Who is he, then?’
‘Oh no, I’ve heard about him my whole life!’
Then…PITCH WAS BACK! Then POOF! Santa and Tracy were gone! Marla was whimpering all alone. Santa and Tracy were in jail captured by….PITCH! Tracy then said, ‘AH, WE ARE CAPTURED!’ ‘Oh no!’ said Santa, ‘we’re stuck like this!’

Santa and Tracy were worried about being captured and in jail so they had to do what they were supposed to do and try and escape. Two weeks later, genius Marla dug a hole underground and pulled Santa and Tracy down the hole. While Marla was digging she fell into Pitch’s potion lab! Marla found the Turn-Into-Normal potion and so Santa and Tracy drank some but left some so that they could make Pitch drink some. It took 4 hours of walking to find Pitch. When they found him, Santa found a shield and so he picked it up and grabbed him and Tracy gave Marla the potion to make Pitch drink. POOF! Pitch was back to normal and so Tracy and Pitch were friends and got married and all four of them lived happily ever after!

Word: passion
Passion is a great feeling to have. It feels like there’s something inside of you. Something that makes you feel strong, determined and confident. Even when you feel like you can’t do things if you’re passionate you can still do things. That makes me feel very special. I think if people focused more on THEIR passions, and didn’t show off and judge other people, the world would be a much better place. These are the things I think would be better:
1. Everyone would feel more confident and light-hearted.
2. Without people bothering each other, and just being passionate about their own things, the world would be more peaceful.
3. The people in this world would get along better.
Here’s an acrostic poem:
Positive – Passion is positive
Assuring – Passion is assuring
Safe – Passion makes you feel safe
Sure –It makes you feel sure
Innovate – Passion is innovative
Original – Passion is original
Nice – Passion is nice!
Remember: be kind and stay passionate!

Word: misfit
We’re All Different
The day had finally come. I’d been hoping my parents would change their minds or forget but no, they had to remember. As I hopped out of the car and onto the cold, hard pavement, my heart began to pound harder by the second! I walked through the school gates and as I turned around to say goodbye to my mum I saw the hundreds of eyes that were staring at me and I realised they had seen my face. Okay, I have a very strange face but did they really need to remind me? As the bell rang I was back in the real world. I knew then that it would be a difficult first day. I quickly put my head down and ran through the hallway to my general room. As everyone sat down the teacher began to speak and the words I was dreading came out of her mouth: ‘we have a new student today.’ And as all those hundreds of eyes stared back at me again, I realised I was a misfit and that would never change.

Bing, bong. The home time bell had rung. ‘Great,’ I thought, ‘this was my time to quickly sneak away and go home.’ So I dashed through the hallway before anyone could see me and straight out the school gates. But I couldn’t see my mum’s car. ‘Was she late?’ I wondered. Before I could blink, children came running out of the doors and to the gate and then all those were gazing at one thing – me. And now it was clear that I was the only misfit in the school. As I sat down on the bench, mum arrived, so I quickly got up and walked to the car with my head down. ‘How was your day?’ she asked. ‘Okay, I guess,’ I replied.

As we drove home, I gazed out the window and grasped my mum’s hand tightly. She knew by that that I didn’t have a good day at school land I didn’t want to go again. We finally got home and I quickly opened the door and ran straight to my room. Minute after minute went by that I kept thinking of what the word misfit meant, was it a weird person or an ugly person? But then it hit me – a misfit was someone who was unique and who stood out in a large group of people. So actually I was glad I was a misfit, because if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be able to have the amazing life I have now. Then, unexpectedly, the door opened and from the corner of my eye I saw my mum. ‘Good night,’ she whispered as she tiptoed in and gave me a hug and as she began to talk to me, the words I was hoping she would say came out of her mouth.

I fell asleep contentedly, knowing that I wasn’t going back to school.

Children in Australia in the 21st century are really fortunate because we call get sufficient nutritious food, clean water, good education, good society with no wars and most people get along with each other, and everyone gets the same rights. Compared to other countries, Austraia is really fortunate, because some third-world countries have people running away from their country, wars that many people are dying in, dirty water (when they get water), limited food (food usually comes from the bin and is dirty), different rights (depending on the person), and a government that does things for himself and not for his people.

Children in Australia are fortunate for so many reasons. Our opportunities are endless. Unlike other countries where there is war, poverty, terrorism, Australia is safe and children can dream big. Schools are well-organised and teachers support students to become whatever they would like to be.

The opportunities that living in Australia gives me are that I can live in a good house, I have a family that loves me, good education, and a school that encourages me to go and think big. I have lots of friends that I can see often, and I’m not worried about my safety, and I’m not wondering whether my food is poisonous or dangerous to eat.

What I feel most fortunate about is the many opportunities I have to play sports. I enjoy football, basketball and cricket. I get great access to great coaches who give up their time to make me a better player. In other countries which are not as fortunate, they are more worried about being hurt in water and terrorism. They may not even have access to schooling and have to do whatever they can to get food for their families.

I consider Australia to be the land of opportunities, which gives everyone the chance to be what I want to be. I will never take where I live for granted and I am thankful for the opportunities I have and everything I am.

To me, the word that best describes Australia is belonging. It’s nine o’clock in the morning and I’m walking down King St on my way to my dad’s work. Mattresses, makeshift beds and pieces of cardboard adorn the doorways of empty shopfronts. It’s the latest crisis in my city. Homelessness. Who knows why these people are sleeping rough out here. It may not even be through any fault of their own, but they sleep here. We’re so lucky to live in such a safe country, but even in Australia – my country – some struggle to belong. My next door neighbour is four years old. She comes from a happy and loving family. She goes to kinder and loves it there. Every day, Emily’s dad comes to pick her up at three o’clock in the afternoon. Emily and her dad always walk home, and I walk the last hundred metres home with them. Emily’s parents work as a doctor and a lawyer, but they aren’t married. They can’t. They are not allowed. They are both men and Emily is their adopted daughter. All they want is to cement their bonds, be legally married and further tighten their family bond. Emily’s parents are despised by some, pitied by others, but above all they just want to be accepted. They don’t want to be treated differently. They are the same as everyone else. They just want to belong in their country. My country, Australia, is a very privileged country. It is a safe, multicultural country. We go to the Olympics, we play I the FIFA World Cup, but we are governed by Queen Elizabeth II. Australia is one of the largest countries in the Commonwealth and also one of the richest in the Commonwealth. Imagine if my country, Australia, could step out of the Commonwealth’s shadow and show the world its true potential. Be courageous and give her people a true sense of belonging, to just one entity: Australia. Surely this act would foster a greater sense of belonging for her people and would build a stronger identity for Australia. Imagine if Australia took the plunge! We all want to belong – to feel connected to something or someone. This gives us purpose, instils a sense of security and makes us feel wanted. I have a very strong sense of belonging. I am loved by my family, accepted by my friends, feel safe and secure in my community and, above all else, am happy. My country, Australia, must do its best to give her people the same sense of belonging. Whether belonging can be given at a local level by providing housing for those who are sleeping rough or are homeless, or at a national level by giving people marriage equality, or globally by becoming her own nation, Australia has a great opportunity to give her people a sense of belonging. Let’s make this lucky country, Australia, even better and really let everyone feel loved and accepted and proud to belong in Australia.

Class winners:

Prep | Sacre Coeur School, Glen Iris (VIC)
Grade 1 | Red Hill Consolidated School, Red Hill (VIC)
Grade 2 | Pulteney Grammar School, Adelaide (SA)
Grade 3 | Wingham Brush Public School, Wingham (NSW)
Grade 4 | Camberwell Girls' Grammar, Canterbury (VIC)
Grade 5 | 5K – Immanuel Primary School, Novar Gardens (SA)
Grade 6 | 6C – Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School, Keilor East (VIC)