It’s not an understatement to say the entirety of Australia has been completely entranced by the Matildas, with even a sports-phobic hottie like me frenziedly watching their matches for the first time during the World Cup this year. It turns out the folks at Australian National Dictionary are also enamoured with our green and gold gals, because they’ve chosen our Word of the Year based on them.
That’s right folks, this year’s special word is “matilda” — for both its significance in our history, and also the Matildas’ impact in reviving it. Brb, tearing up.
“As an editorial team … we’re looking to highlight a word that has been significant and represents something about Australia each year,” Mark Gwynn, the senior researcher at the Australian National Dictionary Centre, told ABC Radio Canberra.
“Basically where the team’s name comes from, matilda meaning a swag, as in ‘Waltzing Matilda’, is one of the reasons we chose the word.
“Not only has it been so significant this year, but also it’s got a great and long history in Australian English.”
The Matildas played their way into our collective consciousness during their heart-stopping matches in the World Cup, where they ended up placing fourth. More than a whopping 11 million people tuned in to watch them play in the semi-final.
“It’s only since the mid-1990s that the women’s soccer team has been called the Matildas, but after this year’s World Cup, the word has once again cemented itself in the Australian lexicon,” Dr Amanda Laugesen, Australian National Dictionary Centre director, said per ABC News.
The feverish excitement they brought to Australians — and the sense of community that came with this — was a joy to witness, and their effect on us clearly remains.
After the World Cup, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the Play Our Way program: a $200 million scheme with the intention to boost participation and outcomes in women’s sport.
The Word of the Year for 2022 was “teal”, in reference to the Teal independent candidates who shook up last year’s federal election.
The year before that, the chosen word was “strollout”, calling out the federal government’s glacial-pace when it came to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
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