"Shovel-ready" named word of year by Australian dictionary

Wed Feb 3, 2010 9:45pm EST
 
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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - The word "shovel-ready," referring to a building project set to start as soon as funding is secured, was on Thursday named as the word of the year for 2009 by Australia's largest dictionary.

"Shovel-ready" was among a list of new words chosen by a committee for inclusion in the annual update of the online Macquarie Dictionary.

"The Committee felt that this word was associated with one of the major preoccupations of 2009 - how to avoid a recession," the dictionary's editor Susan Butler said in a statement.

"Shovel-ready projects were worthy to receive money from the (government's) economic stimulus package because they could provide jobs immediately. It was therefore a word that was topical as well as one that provided a graphic mental image."

As the global financial crisis took hold, the Australian government launched a A$52 billion package to stimulate its recession-hit economy which led to tax refunds and funding construction projects among other initiatives.

Butler said honorable mentions went to "tweet," referring to the 140-character messages posted on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

Also on the list were "head-nodder," meaning a supporter of someone being interview on television who stands next to them nodding their head in agreement, "cyberbully" and "roar factor," meaning the influence a home crowd has on a referee or umpire.

"Heritage media," meaning media such as newspapers and TV thought to be losing sway in the face of changing communication, and "petrichor," which is released by eucalypts into rivers and encourages fish and invertebrates to breed, also won honorable mentions.

The word "tweet" was also the most popular word in the people's choice category following an online vote.

Last year "toxic debt" was crowned the word of 2008 while 2007's world was "pod slurping." The dictionary's inaugural word of the year in 2006 was "muffin top."

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy)