November 24, 2010 / 4:08 PM / 9 years ago

"Big Society" named phrase of the year

LONDON (Reuters) - David Cameron’s “Big Society” has been named the Oxford Dictionaries phrase of the year in Britain, beating strong candidates like “vuvuzela,” “double-dip” and “Boris bike.”

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during his address to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in London October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The official meaning is: “a political concept whereby a significant amount of responsibility for the running of a society’s services is devolved to local communities and volunteers.”

Cameron said in July: “The big society is about liberation — the biggest, most dramatic redistribution of power from elites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street.”

Some may have had difficulty grasping quite what the concept amounts to and others have openly mocked it, but Oxford Dictionaries was in no doubt.

“Big society was for us a clear winner because it embraces so much of the year’s political and economic mood,” said Susie Dent, spokeswoman for Oxford Dictionaries and language expert on Channel 4’s “Countdown” programme.

The word of the year award does not necessarily mean inclusion in the dictionary.

“We always wait to see good evidence that a word or expression will stay the course before we include it in an Oxford dictionary,” said Dent.

Other words in contention were:

— Tea Party: the U.S. conservative political movement.

— preloading: the practice of drinking heavily at home before going out, to save money.

— top kill: the sealing of a leaking oil well

— woot: the expression of elation, enthusiasm or triumph, especially in texts and internet forums

Reporting by Ragna Gauger; Editing by Steve Addison

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