Australia

The meaning of 'democracy sausage', Australia's word of 2016

Barbecues have become an Australian tradition on election day Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A popular sight at election polling booths in Australia

It may be two words but "democracy sausage" has been deemed tasty enough to be Australia's word of the year.

The Australian National Dictionary Centre enshrined the term for a popular election-day staple as its word of 2016 on Wednesday.

So what is a democracy sausage?

It refers to a barbecued sausage that is typically served on a slice of bread with tomato sauce, and often onion, at polling booths around the country.

Although sausages have long featured on Australia's election days, the term was first recorded in 2012 and rose to greater prominence at July's federal poll.


The 2016 shortlist

  • Democracy sausage - A barbecued sausage served on a slice of bread, bought at a polling booth sausage sizzle on election day;
  • Ausexit - The potential cutting of ties with the British monarchy, or the departure of Australia from the United Nations;
  • Census fail - The failure of the Australian Bureau of Statistics website on census night;
  • Deplorables - People considered to be extremely conservative or reactionary, especially those who reject mainstream politics;
  • Shoey - The act of drinking an alcoholic beverage out of a shoe, especially to celebrate a sporting victory;
  • Smashed avo - A popular cafe breakfast, typically consisting of a thick slice of toast topped with chopped or mashed seasoned avocado.

Source: Australian National Dictionary Centre


Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Are you throwing your money away on fancy breakfasts?

Amanda Laugesen, director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, said the term democracy sausage gained traction through the eight-week election campaign, considered long by Australian standards.

"Perhaps that was evidence that people were not as inspired by the policies on both sides of politics," she told the BBC.

Other food and drink choices also made the shortlist.

Smashed avo, a menu staple at many Australian brunch spots, became the subject of a national debate after a newspaper columnist suggested that young people should give up eating at cafes and instead buy a house.

And the shoey, an unorthodox sporting celebration, was popularised by Australian driver Daniel Riccardio who downed champagne from his racing boot several times from atop the Formula One podium.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption F1 driver Daniel Riccardio celebrating in his signature style

"They all say something about the rise of social media in terms of shaping our language," Dr Laugesen said.

"Perhaps also the millennials having something to do with shaping social, political and cultural discourse - particularly with the smashed avo or the shoey."

Following the US election and Brexit vote, Oxford Dictionaries chose "post-truth" as its international word of the year.

It said the adjective, associated with the rising influence of emotional appeals in shaping public opinion, could become "one of the defining words of our time".

More on this story