Thursday, 20 August 2009

Word of the day

Today's word is shovel-ready. During a recent visit to Canberra, I encountered the word several times, used in a normal everyday context. The main reason for this is that because of our infrastructure-driven economic recovery, which has been so effective, it became increasingly important for government to locate projects which are shovel-ready.

The meaning is fairly clear - a project for which early stages are completed (rationale development, planning, and so on) so that we can start spending money now. The importance of the concept, and hence the ubiquity of the term in these difficult times, are also clear. The term is also used extensively in the US, where similar strategies are being used to pull that nation out of recession. The concept of shovel-ready infrastructure projects was referred to in Word-Spy at the end of 2008 but there is a use cited from as early as 1995. The concept is not new.

Some people may have assumed, as I did initially, that shovel-ready refers to shovelling money out of the money wheelbarrow. Not true. The term is a metaphor taken from the building industry.