Oxford Word of the Month: July – Shoey

WotM header

noun: the act of drinking an alcoholic beverage out of a shoe, especially to celebrate a win.

THE STORY BEHIND THE WORD OF THE MONTH

The shoey is an Australian phenomenon that shot to international fame in 2016, thanks to Australian racing driver Daniel Ricciardo. He came second in the German Grand Prix in August and on the winners’ podium performed a shoey for the crowd, filling his shoe with champagne and drinking it. The international press were amused and horrified in equal measure.

Ricciardo repeated the move on the podium after a second placing in Belgium, and again as the winner of the Malaysian Grand Prix. The shoey also attracted notoriety at the Malaysian Grand Prix with the arrest of the Budgie Nine—a group of Australian spectators who had been seen doing shoeys—for stripping down to speedos printed with the Malaysian flag.

The shoey has humble origins in Australia, and possibly began as a kind of party trick. It is described in a Tasmanian newspaper in 2014, in the first written evidence of its use:

Punk bands from across the country are converging on the spiritual home of the ‘shoey’—the act of using your dirty shoe as a beer mug—this weekend for the second annual All Tomorrow’s Shoeys festival. (Hobart Mercury, 24 April 2014)

It is clear from the name of the festival that the history of the shoey predates 2014 but so far earlier evidence remains elusive.

The shoey’s association with motorsport may have begun in 2015 with V8 drivers in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. It hit the international stage in July 2016 when performed by Australian motorcyclist Jack Miller to celebrate his Dutch MotoGP win. Daniel Ricciardo credits Miller as the inspiration for his own podium shoey. Now the shoey has global recognition as Ricciardo’s signature move on the prestigious Formula One circuit:

It was another ‘shoey’ day for Perth’s Daniel Ricciardo when the 27-year-old celebrated his second place in the Belgian Grand Prix by drinking champagne from his shoe. (Wanneroo Times, 30 August 2016)

The shoey is clearly having a moment, at least within motorsport circles, as this Gold Coast Bulletin item relating to the Gold Coast 600 car race suggests:

S is for shoey. Drinking booze from your own well-worn shoe. Apparently it’s the in-thing right now. It started with V8 Ute champ Ryal Harris, then Dave Reynolds, now it’s a global trend. You might see a few on the hill. (21 October 2016)

Shoey will be considered for inclusion in the next edition of the Australian National Dictionary. It was shortlisted for the Australian National Dictionary Centre’s 2016 Word of the Year.

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