The Government’s call to hand power to the people through the Big Society has become so prominent that the phrase has been named as Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year, it has been announced.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to redistribute power from Whitehall to the “man and woman on the street” has appeared in numerous speeches, articles and policies since the coalition government took power.
Organisers said they chose “big society” because of the level of interest it has attracted in the last 12 months as a reflection of the current political and economic climate.
Every year, the dictionaries team at Oxford University Press – which tracks how the vocabulary of the English language is changing – comes up with a word or expression deemed worthy of the honour.
Oxford Dictionaries spokeswoman Susie Dent, who appears on Channel 4’s Countdown, said: “Big society was for us a clear winner because it embraces so much of the year’s political and economic mood.
“Taken to mean many things, it has begun to take on a life of its own, a sure sign of linguistic success.”
Big society was picked ahead of a shortlist of words including double-dip, vuvuzela, Tea Party, preloading, upcycling and showmance.
“The new, or newly topical, words on our shortlist collectively give a telling snapshot of the year’s preoccupations,” Ms Dent said.
“They also demonstrate the most successful processes behind language change – wordplay, blending, and the adoption of foreign terms are all there.”