‘Milkshake duck’ has been voted Word of the Year for 2017 by a Macquarie Dictionary committee, officially marking the word’s passage from online in-joke to full-blown cultural (and lexical) phenomenon.

Originally coined in 2016 by Aussie cartoonist Ben Ward (perhaps best known as Twitter rabblerouser Pixelated Boat), the phrase refers to anyone seized upon as an exemplar to humanity, before the discovery of trés problématique behaviour in their past.

No doubt you already have examples swimming around your mind, and the number of milkshake ducks (noun) who have milkshake ducked (adjective) is only growing: take, for instance, Keaton Jones, whose anti-bullying plea was quickly overshadowed by allegations his mother had posted racially insensitive content on Facebook.

More recently, Aziz Ansari has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman, despite building a lauded career out of comedy expressing the nuances of intimate relationships.

On the decision to honour the word, the Macquarie Dictionary committee issued a statement saying “even if you don’t know the word, you know the phenomenon,” and aptly described the pitfalls of today’s viral culture:

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. 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.

Milkshake duck follows ‘fake news’ as Macquarie Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2016. Both words share frantically online themes, but there’s a dark sense of progression. Fake news means you shouldn’t always trust what someone says; milkshake duck means you should also assume they’ve also previously done something bad.

Now, if you excuse us, we’re off to kill our idols. And to wonder why ANU decided ‘kwaussie’ should be their Word of the Year.

Source: ABC
Image: Digital Camera Magazine / Getty