Word watch: Anzackery

Anzackery n. the use and promotion of the Anzac legend, especially in ways seen to be excessive or misguided.

Anzackery is one of the latest words to enter our vocabulary in relation to the events of 100 years ago.

In the latest edition of ANU Reporter, Australian National Dictionary editor AMANDA LAUGESEN tackles the use of Anzackery.

In the past year, this word has become part of popular discourse and political debate and bids fair to have continued use in the media and elsewhere as the centenary year of the Gallipoli landings is marked.

The term is likely to have been coined by the Australian historian Geoffrey Serle.

In a 1967 essay in Meanjin Quarterly, Serle discussed the contemporary features and dilemmas of Australian nationalism, writing: "What will the recent flowering of a sense of Australian history, the feeling for the bush tradition, Anzackery, and the rest, amount to in practical terms?"

Serle does not explicitly discuss what he means by the term but it is likely that he is referring to the popular uses of the Anzac legend (where the Australian and New Zealand troops fought for eight months in tough conditions) within the context of a country working out the basis for the development of a sense of nationalism.

We have not been able to trace any instances of the word in print again until 2013, when Canberra-based author Paul Daley used the term in a book review in The Guardian.

"There is a lot of money to be made from all of this "Anzackery", as some of Australia's most esteemed, though dissenting, historians and researchers have already named what they fear will be a festival of mythology," he wrote.

As Daley's comment suggests, the use of the word Anzackery reflects a concern from some in the community and academia that the centenary of the Gallipoli landings will be used for political and commercial purposes. He suggests it may be an excuse for over-the-top nationalism and inaccurate history.

Appearances of the word increased through 2014 and will continue through 2015 and beyond.

Anzackery is one of the latest words to enter our vocabulary in relation to the events of 100 years ago.

While its use represents the move to question the centrality of the Anzac legend to Australia's culture and politics, it is also testament to the ongoing prominence of Gallipoli.

Another term that we are now watching with interest is Anzac fatigue, first appearing in 2014 and it is possible it will become more frequently used as the centenary year proceeds.

Subscribe to receive the next print edition of ANU Reporter to read more stories like this.

You can also download our free ANU Reporter app.

Each new edition will automatically download to your Newsstand.

Page owner: