Shirtfront – A new word in diplomacy

Shirtfront – A new word today entered the language of Global English. But what are we to understand of its meaning.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot has today threatened to shirtfront Vladimir Putin, pictured below, over the tragic loss of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.

Vladimir

Vladimir

Shirtfront may be a new word to many non-Australians, who could be forgiven for imagining it to mean “to have a face-to-face, hence “shirt to shirt”, conversation.“. However, hard Australians know this word comes from the world of Australian Football or “Aussie Rules Football”, a sport more similar to rugby than football. Shirtfront’s meaning in the sport’s fan talk seems to mean:

1. using your body to smash into someone who is not looking and not expecting to be smashed into, leading them to lose consciousness, as has happened to these lads.

A pair of Aussies after a double shirtfronting

A pair of Aussies after a double shirtfronting

2. to grab someone by the lapels and tell them off, as demonstrated by housewives’ favourite Michael Knight below.

Shirtfronting an adversary

Shirtfronting an adversary

The final meaning of the word “shirtfront” will likely depend on which of the 2 definitions Mr. Abbot applies at the G20 summit, where his planned shirtfront of the Russian president and ex KGB hardman, Putin, is due to take place.

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