"Shovel ready" announced as Macquarie Dictionary's Word of the Year

3 February 2010

SHOVEL READY - adjective - (of a building or infrastructure project) capable of being initiated immediately, as soon as funding is assured.

Shovel ready has been named as the Macquarie Dictionary's Word of the Year for 2009.

The word was chosen because of its topicality and its visually graphic nature, said Dr Michael Spence, who was on the judging panel, alongside the editor of the Macquarie Dictionary, Susan Butler; Provost Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Stephen Garton; and poet Les Murray.

"We chose the word because of three points," said Dr Spence. "It was particularly graphic; there are signs all over Australia in towns and cities marking projects that have been built with stimulus funding, so the word is very topical and it represents the solution to the problem posed by last year's word which was Toxic Debt.

This is the fourth year of the annual competition, which last year was won, as Dr Spence has mentioned, by toxic debt. In 2007 it was won by pod slurping, and muffin top in 2006.

In the People's Choice category the most popular word was tweet. Other high-scoring choices in the people's favourite competition, which opened for voting on 5 January, 2010, were man crush, elevator speech, media punking, virosphere, bushfire survival plan, geek chic, truffle dog, social phobia and brain fade.

On the social networking platform Twitter, the popular choice was, perhaps unsurprisingly, tweet, followed by poverty porn, staycation, noob, friend with benefits and mashup.

In October 2009, the Macquarie Dictionary launched its fifth edition with 5000 new words that have become part of the Australian idiom. The Word of the Year 2009 was chosen from these new words.

Since 1981 the Macquarie Dictionary has backed Australia's efforts to honour its unique linguistic heritage by embracing new words with this annual Word of the Year competition. In this way, the Macquarie Dictionary has battled the cultural cringe and promoted the Australian vernacular.

Macquarie Dictionary, based at the University of Sydney, is the publisher of Macquarie Dictionary Online, the most up-to-date Australian dictionary available.

Media inquiries for University of Sydney judges: 9036 5404.

Or for interviews withSusan Butler, the Editor of the Macquarie Dictionarycontact Kate Nash on 0406 997 647.