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Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year goes up in a puff of smoke

Despite its support from world leaders like US President Barack Obama and India’s Narenda Modi,  “shirt fronting” did not make it to the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2014. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott used the expression, which in Aussie Rules means a front-on challenge that knocks an opponent to the ground,  to refer to upcoming his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the recent G20 conference in Brisbane. It was a head-line stealer.

Instead, and in a bit of a sad commentary on what’s important in life and language,  the winner is vape, that is, the verb to Inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device, and the noun an electronic cigarette or similar device; an act of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.

Judy Pearsall, Editorial Director for Oxford Dictionaries, explained the decision: ‘As vaping has gone mainstream, with celebrities from Lindsay Lohan to Barry Manilow giving it a go, and with growing public debate on the public dangers and the need for regulation, so the language usage of the word ‘vape’ and related terms in 2014 has shown a marked increase.’’

Wow. That really sends the literary soul soaring.

The shortlist for the award was:


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