Democracy sausage, shoey, smashed avo? The Australian National Dictionary Centre names our word of the year

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had a sausage when he visited Sydney Truck and Machinery in Sydney in June. Photo: Andrew Meares
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had a sausage when he visited Sydney Truck and Machinery in Sydney in June. Photo: Andrew Meares
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten eats a sausage in a roll with onion and tomato sauce during the election campaign. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten eats a sausage in a roll with onion and tomato sauce during the election campaign. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The humble sausage could well have changed the political history of Australia in 2016.

July 2, election day, Malcolm Turnbull proved himself the tong master at Penrith South Public School while across town Bill Shorten struggled to eat a sausage sandwich - albeit one in a fancy roll, not a slice of white bread - and not even the sweet taste of democracy could save him.

It seems only fitting then that "democracy sausage" has been named Australia's 2016 word of the year by the Australian National Dictionary Centre, based at the Australian National University.

Centre director Dr Amanda Laugesen said the official definition was "a barbecued sausage served on a slice of bread, bought at a polling booth sausage sizzle on election day".

"Arguably, the democracy sausage has been one of the best things to come out of a tumultuous year in politics and political campaigning," Dr Laugesen said.

She said the term was first recorded in 2012, but its use increased significantly during the federal election this year, especially with the popularity of several websites set up to help voters find polling stations with sausage sizzles.

"Its use was also boosted by a controversial incident where Opposition Leader Bill Shorten – who noted his sausage sandwich was 'the taste of democracy' – ate his sausage from the middle," she said.

The 2016 Word of the Year and shortlist were selected by the editorial staff of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, which with Oxford University Press publishes the Australian National Dictionary of words and phrases unique to Australia.

The Word of the Year is based on extensive research as well as public suggestions. Other words on the shortlist were census fail, smashed avo, shoey, deplorables and Ausexit.

Census fail refers to the failure of the Australian Bureau of Statistics website on Census night. This was the first year that Australians had been encouraged to complete their census online, but the site was down for two days, prompting a storm of public criticism.

shoey is the act of drinking an alcoholic beverage out of a shoe, especially to celebrate a sporting victory. It is an Australian phenomenon that shot to international fame this year, thanks to Australian Formula One racing driver Daniel Ricciardo. 

Smashed avo is a popular café breakfast which became a hot topic when columnist Bernard Salt referred to young people spending money on eating smashed avocado on toast in cafes rather than saving to buy a house.

"It prompted a furious backlash in the media from Gen Y, who protested that home ownership is out of their reach," Dr Laugesen said.

Ausexit refers to the potential cutting of ties with the British monarchy, or the departure of Australia from the United Nations.

"The success of the Brexit referendum in the UK, which decided that Britain should leave the European Union, prompted a republican push in Australia for an exit of our own – an end to our ties with the British monarchy," said Dr Laugesen.

"There are also calls for an Ausexit from the UN."

Deplorables is a term used to refer to people considered to be extremely conservative or reactionary, especially those who reject mainstream politics.

"Hillary Clinton was strongly criticised for elitism and arrogance after describing Trump supporters as deplorables during the US election, and Trump's followers wore the label with pride," Dr Laugesen said.

The Australian National Dictionary Centre at the ANU undertakes research into Australian English in partnership with Oxford University Press (OUP), and edits Australian dictionaries for Oxford University Press.

"It has entered the Australian political lexicon too, broadly referring to voters who feel disenfranchised."

This story Democracy sausage, shoey, smashed avo? The Australian National Dictionary Centre names our word of the year first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.