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sheddie also sheddy

noun [countable]

a person who creates a comfortable living space in a shed (=a small garden outbuilding) and regularly uses it for work or leisure purposes

'However, for Mr Miller, winning Shed of the Year appears to only be the beginning – as his garden is still a "work in progress". He remarked: "It's the ultimate accolade for shed owners. I've had loads of really positive comments from sheddies around the globe – it really seems to have caught everyone's imagination."…'

Swell UK 6th July 2010

Fed up with the daily commute? Need a tranquil place to escape to after a long day at work? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then the solution may be no further than the bottom of your garden. Humble garden sheds, formerly the preserve of green-fingered males of advancing years, are enjoying a surge in popularity, and those that regularly occupy them are now affectionately known as sheddies.

2010's Shed of the Year event had a 'hut parade' which included a Dr Who Tardis, a mini naval museum and a pirate ship

Like the garden constructions they inhabit, sheddies come in all shapes and sizes. On the one hand there are the 'professional' sheddies, those people who have recognized the potential the shed has to become an outdoor work space, now often referred to as a garden office. These kinds of sheddies occupy constructions which are, in fact, a far cry from the small, dark hut full of grubby tools and flower pots. These buildings are usually made of wood, but there the resemblance ends, with insulated roofs, double-glazed windows, electricity, Internet access and every possible comfort to create an environment conducive to work. These kinds of sheds, often architecturally and ecologically innovative, are popular with sheddies who are self-employed, especially those at the creative end of the spectrum, such as authors, artists and musicians. Here the sheddie can let the creative juices flow, free from the disturbances of others.

On the other hand, there are the 'hobbyist' sheddies, those people who are just crazy about their sheds and spend their leisure hours lovingly transforming and maintaining them, sometimes giving them a unique purpose (check out this article featuring a couple who converted their shed into a miniature pub!). Diehard sheddies in this category might even spend time giving them themed decoration and, in a kind of light-hearted sheddie one-upmanship, competing with others in events such as the UK's Shed of the Year competition. 2010's Shed of the Year event, held during the UK's National Shed Week in early July, had a 'hut parade' which included a Dr Who Tardis, a mini naval museum and a pirate ship.

Background – sheddie

The affectionate term sheddie has been around for a number of years, but has only recently come into the public eye in connection with the observation that the current economic situation may in part be responsible for the growing popularity of 'garden offices'. Users of garden offices, also sometimes referred to as 'shed workers', are now often female, countering the rather hackneyed image of the shed as the last bastion of masculinity.

The word shed meaning 'building for storage' was first attested in the mid-15th century, used as a variant of the noun shade. Sheddie is formed by adding the suffix -ie, (also -y), conventionally used to form diminutive nouns and pet names (e.g. kid > kiddie, Tom > Tommy, etc). In British English, use of -ie or -y generally has affectionate overtones, though is used more randomly in other varieties, especially in Australian English, e.g. wallie ('wallet'), firie ('fire-fighter').

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 30th August 2010.

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