‘Shirtfront’ is the Australian National Dictionary Centre’s Word of 2014.
The obscure AFL term came to international prominence following Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s public threat to shirtfront Russian President Vladimir Putin over the downing of flight MH17.
“I’m going to shirtfront Mr Putin. … I am going to be saying to Mr Putin Australians were murdered,” Mr Abbott said in a press conference, just weeks ahead of the APEC summit in Beijing and G20 gathering in Brisbane.
The word, which refers to a deliberate and very physical font-on clash with an opponent, quickly went around (a mostly bemused) world.
Following Mr Abbott’s now infamous threat, the term became the source of viral memes and gags. British Prime Minister David Cameron and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modhi even made jokes about it in their speeches to Australia’s parliament.
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The Australian National Dictionary Centre, which is linked to the Australian National University in Canberra, conducts research into Australian English and provides Oxford University Press with editorial expertise for their Australian dictionaries.
On their website, Ozwords.org, the centre says about their choice for Word of the Year 2014: “The words chosen for the shortlist are not necessarily new, or exclusively Australian, but are selected on the basis of having come to some prominence in the Australian social and cultural landscape during the year. This year one word stood out for its presence in Australian politics and the media. We have selected shirtfront as our Word of the Year 2014.”
Also on the 2014 shortlist were: Team Australia, man-bun, Ned Kelly beard, and coward punch.
IMAGE: Anti G20 protesters in Brisbane adopt Tony Abbott’s language – Shirtfront – in November 2014. (By paintings / Shutterstock.com)