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Posted on 8 August 2022

You're lower than a snake's belly!

Aussie Word of the Week

You're lower than a snake's belly! If someone tosses this insult your way, they are calling you mean, despicable and contemptible. Gee, thanks. At the Macquarie Dictionary we are welled versed in Aussie insults. This isn't the first time we have explored barbs on our blog. So strap yourselves in for another round of great Aussie insults. Mongrel is a great Aussie insult that was formerly used in the United Kingdom but has now become extinct there. A mongrel is a detestable person. If a job is too difficult it's a mongrel of a job.ratbag is a worthless, despicable person. This piece of slang was recorded as early as the 1890s but didn't become common until the 1940s. If you think this blog is piss-weak then you think it's shabby or substandard, as in, those ratbags at Macquarie wrote another piss-weak blog.  I have left off some of the more, ahem, colourful insults that feature in the Macquarie Dictionary, many of which have a taboo label. Believe me, there are a lot of them. Just to prove we aren't that squeamish, I couldn't resist including one very colourful Aussie insult: f*ckwit. This uniquely Aussie blend of f*ck and nitwit means an incredibly stupid person. It can also be used to mean a despicable or detestable person. Like wine, wool and vegemite, we have managed to export f*ckwit to the world but without the need for a free trade agreement. Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 1 August 2022

-ie

Aussie Word of the Week

Australians love brevity. We are fond of shortening words. Perhaps the most famous example is the shortening of the Melbourne Cricket Ground to the MCG. But that wasn't enough for Victorians, so they dropped the M and the C so the colossal stadium became simple the G.  Today we want to look at the suffix -ie., which is used across the English-speaking world as an affectionate diminutive. Think of doggie, a dog, for example. In Australia, we have really taken to it and use -ie to create slangy forms of ordinary words where the sense of smallness is not present. Think, Aussie. Seeing as Aussies have tried to weld an -ie onto the end of half the dictionary, we thought it best to pick out some of our favourites rather than try to list them all. A greenie is a conservationist. Now used worldwide, greenie was actually an Australian coinage. Although the association of green with environmentalism was first made in German politics of the early 1970s, and first appeared in English in the name Greenpeace, the addition of -ie to form a noun was an Australian contribution. From green to the blue waters, a boatie is a person who owns and runs a small craft. While back on dry land, I'm sure you've been driven around by a cabbie: a taxi driver.  There are so many more -ie words that we simply can't list anymore but did you know that -y is sometimes used in place of the -ie suffix, because, well it just makes sense doesn't it? It’s also somewhat more pleasing on the eye.  Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.  
Posted on 20 June 2022

toodle-em-buck

Aussie Word of the Week

Toodle-em-buck was a game of chance played mainly by children in Victoria back in the 1920s for gambling on horseraces, especially the Melbourne Cup. The game consisted of a wooden skewer, a cotton reel, and a cardboard disc marked in sectors, each bearing a horse's name and betting odds proportional to sector size. A pointer showed the winner when the disc stopped spinning. Children are the creators and players in many games. Bedlam, for instance, is the Queensland name for the schoolyard chasing game British bulldog, in which a group of children run repeatedly through an area guarded by other children. Those who are caught each time join forces with their catchers until only one child remains uncaught and is the winner. Brandings is another schoolyard game. In brandings, a tennis ball is thrown at the other players by the person who is `in'. The person hit is then `in.' Brandings is is the common term in NSW, ACT and Tasmania. In the other states it is usually known as brandy. The idea is to throw the ball hard enough to brand the person hit – in other words, to leave a glowing red mark. Ouch! For some reason, it's banned by schoolteachers the country over. We couldn't sign off without mentioning that Anzac Day staple, two-up: the classic Australian gambling game in which two coins are thrown off a kip into the air so that they spin. Bets are laid on whether they fall heads or tails – a fall of one head and one tail requiring the coins to be tossed again. That's game over for this week.  Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 30 May 2022

Rough around the edges

Aussie Word of the Week

This week's blog is a bit rough around the edges. Do you know a roughie? That is, a rude or crude person. I'm sure we've all been a roughie at times. Another definition of roughie is a swindle or shrewd trick, as in, he put a roughie over Bill yesterday.  Perhaps because of the convict roots of Modern Australia, Australian English contains a lot of slang words for swindle. Con is an obvious one, or con job: a practised confidence trick. Bilk is another. Dating back to the 17th Century, to bilk is to cheat, swindle or to evade a payment on a debt.  Eelie is an obsolete Aussie underworld slang word for a confidence trick or the ruse by which a swindle is affected, probably extracted from eelerspee, an obsolete word for a con artist.  Two more swindling words Australians might be more familiar with are dudded and rort. You can read more about rorts elsewhere on our blog, or you can speak to your local MP, har har.  In case you're feeling ripped off we'll throw in a bonus word: slanter, a swindle or other piece of dishonest trickery. Slanter has been Aussie slang since the 1840s and is still common in the racing game. Originally spelt schlinter or schlente, it means counterfeit in South African English and comes from the Dutch or Afrikaans slenter. Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 16 May 2022

Political slang: from gaffes to faceless men

Aussie Word of the Week

With the Federal election almost upon us, we delved into our database to help you make sense of the slang and jargon your candidates have been spouting on the campaign trail.  We've heard a lot about the dreaded gaffe during this election campaign. A gaffe is defined as a social blunder. Someone who is inclined to make slips of the tongue or cause embarrassment in some way is deemed gaffe-prone. A particuarly bad gaffe could be considered a shocker.  Have you heard of the faceless men? No, they aren't a secret assassins guild, they are men who exercise political power without having to take on personal or public responsibility for their actions. Oh, hang on, I guess they are a sort of secret guild after all.  The House is a local nickname Canberrans have given to Parliament House. Who lives at Parliament House? Well, pollies of course. This shortened form of politician has been part of the Aussie lexicon since the 1960s.  Swing isn't just what children do at the play park, it's also the measure of the electoral support transferred from one party to another, as expressed in percentage points, between a party's vote at one election and its vote at the next.  We can't talk about political slang in election season without mentioing the democracy sausage. You can read more about what is possibly Australia's greatest democratic tradition on our blog.  Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 9 May 2022

Can you hack it?

Aussie Word of the Week

This week, we have hacked out a space for all the hacks. When we searched hack in our database we had one election inspired word in mind: party hack, a long-time, loyal member of a political party, especially one who does menial work for the party, but there were just so many definitions of hack that we couldn't resist exploring this versatile word further.  Another election related hack is a political hack: a politician who pursues the narrow goal of ensuring that his or her party is in power, often using methods that are to do with the exercise of power or the pursuit of expediency. Can the political hacks hack it? That is, do they have patience.  I'm sure we all know about hackers by now. The Macquarie defines a hacker as a person who is adept at manipulating computer systems, especially someone who achieves unauthorised access to the computer system of a business organisation, government department, etc., or who achieves unauthorised access to a person's digital device, as a phone or tablet computer. In recent years, several types of hackers have emerged. There are ethical hackers: a hacker who attempts to hack into a computer network or device in order to test its level of security, and hacktivists: people who use their ability as hackers to further a political cause. If manipulating computer systems isn't enough you might try your hand at biohacking, a method for managing one's own biology, by using measures to improve it such as meditation, nutritional supplements or therapeutic techniques such as aromatherapy. Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.      
Posted on 2 May 2022

Are you a happy little vegemite?

Aussie Word of the Week

At the Macquarie Dictionary we like to spread good cheer. To celebrate our good mood, we rummaged around the Dictionary database in search of words and phrases that express that happiness. That's why this week’s word of the week is happy little vegemite. :) :) :)  A happy little Vegemite is a person in a good mood, as in, Look at the happy little Vegemites working away in there. This slang sense first appeared in the 1980s and originated in the well-loved advertising jingle for the spread Vegemite, which first filled Australian airwaves back in 1954. While happy little Vegemite mainly refers to children in a positive sense, there are tons of other happy slang words that encompass adults and children alike. To be happy as Larry means you are extremely happy. This Aussie slang dates from the 1900s but just who this Larry was and how he could have been happy enough to become a byword for joy is unknown. If you're not quite as happy as our friend Larry you can still be a happy camper: a person who is very pleased, though this one originates in the United States and not Australia.  As we're partial to a bit of swearing, we couldn't leave off without reminding everyone that you can be as happy as a pig in shit.  Now that we're all beatified, we'll call an end to this week's blog. We hope you have a red-letter day. Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.