Word of the Year season is underway and it’s turning out to be a dark and gloomy one. Oxford Dictionaries chose post-truth. Dictionary.com picked xenophobia. Merriam-Webster, which selects based on number of word lookups, seems on track to crown fascism.
The fraught political landscape giving prominence to these words isn’t confined to any one country. Postfaktisch (“post-truth”) won for Word of the Year in Germany. Austria’s Word of the Year refers to an exhausting, extended, contested presidential election and, at 52 letters long, is also a slog to actually say: Bundespraesidentenstichwahlwiederholungsverschiebung (“postponement of the repeat runoff of the presidential election”).
Now Australia has chosen democracy sausage as its Word of the Year, and while it also comes from the world of politics, it’s from the more cheerful side. Democracy sausage is not some metaphor for all the gross bits and ends that are ground up and stuffed into the process of democracy, but an actual sausage, grilled and served on a slice of bread or a nice roll at polling stations on Election Day. The sausages are sold as fundraisers for the schools, community centers, and churches where voting takes place.
Democracy sausage has been a feature of Election Day in Australia since 2012, but rose to word of the year status this year due to a much publicized gaffe by a politician who awkwardly attempted to eat his sausage from the middle instead of one of the ends. It was also a big topic of discussion because of the growing popularity of internet tools for mapping sausage stalls, enabling people to plan their voting around their eating.
Drinking also made an appearance on the shortlist of Australian word of the year candidates with shoey, a term for champagne or other festive libation drunk out of a shoe in celebration of a sports win. It pairs well with democracy sausage.