Australians' election essential was the inspiration behind the 2016 Australian Word of the Year.

Democracy sausage: a barbecued sausage served on a slice of bread, bought at a polling booth sausage sizzle on election day.

Democracy sausage has been named Australia’s 2016 word of the year.

The Australian National Dictionary Centre, based at The Australian National University (ANU), selected democracy sausage because of its increased prominence in Australia in a year of election campaigns.

Centre Director Dr Amanda Laugesen said the term was chosen from a shortlist which included census fail, smashed avo, shoey, deplorables and Ausexit.

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

The term was first recorded in 2012, but its use increased significantly during the federal election in 2016, 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.

From the shortlist, 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.

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,” she said.

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

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.

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

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.

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. OUP is the world’s largest university press with the widest global presence.

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