The term "big society" coined by David Cameron, the prime minister, was chosen by Oxford academics as the Word of 2010. The award for the word was given last night and made some people vexed, other feeling enthusiastic. The choice was made out of short phrases by lexicographers at Oxford University Press and comes on top after close contest with vuvuzela and Boris bike. In the contest 11 shortlisted terms which competed to "express in shorthand" the dominant issues of the leaving year were rejected.
Susie Dent, of Oxford Dictionaries, said: "The concept of big society was a clear winner because it embraces so much of the year's political and economic mood. It has also begun to take on a life of its own, and that's a sure sign of linguistic success."
The usage of the term "big society" began in the run-up to the election campaign, but was firstly used by David Cameron in July as a synonym for liberation. In his speech in Liverpool, he claimed that it meant "the biggest, most dramatic redistribution of power to date from elites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street".
After the phrase was pronounced, it became the issue of deep analysis by many analysts with the purpose to work out the exact meaning of the term. Susie Dent believes that as the term is perceived by people in different ways, it is worth being the Word of the Year.
There were such possible winners among the terms as staycation, tweetup, simples, essay writing and others but none emerged as a clear winner. Such words as bovvered, credit crunch and footprint were also at the top of 2007's Word of the Century. This year's American winner is the term "refudiate", originated from refute and repudiate and invented by Sarah Palin.
Dent said that the winners do not always get places in the Oxford English Dictionary and are not always in usage for a long time: "The winner and all the words on our shortlist give a telling snapshot of the year's preoccupations. They also demonstrate the most successful processes behind language change – wordplay, blending, and the adoption of foreign terms are all there."