“Matilda” was picked as Australia’s word of the year on Wednesday after the national football team’s historic run to the semi-finals of their home Women’s World Cup.
Nicknamed the “Matildas”, the team were front- and back-page news in Australia in July and August as they reached the last four of the World Cup for the first time.
They eventually bowed out 3-1 to old rivals England in front of 76,000 spectators in Sydney.
But that has not stopped experts at The Australian National University (ANU) from choosing Matilda as their word of the year for 2023, noting that “Matildas mania swept the country”.
“It’s only since the mid-1990s that the women’s soccer team has been called the Matildas,” said Amanda Laugesen, director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre at ANU.
“But after this year’s World Cup the word has once again cemented itself in the Australian lexicon.”
Laugesen said that the word was commonly known before now because of the song “Waltzing Matilda”.
“The original German name refers to strength in battle,” Laugesen added.
“So it’s an appropriate name for a team that has inspired so many people this year, particularly young women and girls.”
An estimated 11.5 million people in Australia tuned in to see the semi-final defeat to England, making it the most-watched television programme on record in the country.
Spain beat England 1-0 in the final.