Macquarie Dictionary


Horse’s doover

This week we are enjoying some horse’s doover. Say what? Horse’s doover is a jocular mispronunciation of hors d’oeuvre that has been part of Aussie slang since the 1970s. 

References to France, the French and the French language in Australian English are often humorous, with the special aim of butchering that language. 

Slang words that originated from French include alley-oop, an exclamation of encouragement when you give someone a leg-up, from the French allez hop, and shivoo: a party or celebration, which originates from the French chez vous, meaning ‘at your place.’

Plonk is the name for a bottle of cheap wine, but did you know the word is likely French in origin? Originally Aussie slang, plonk was first recorded in the 1930s. It is probably a corrupt pronunciation of the French blanc, as in vin blanc: ‘white wine’. Plonk possibly originating with Australian troops who served in France during World War I. It is now commonly used in Britain and can also jokingly to refer to really excellent wine

The last word we will look at today is bonzer, or bonza, which means great or terrific. The origin of bonzer is mystifying. It dates to the early 1900s where it was one of a set of similar sounding words, namely bontosherbonsterboshter, and bosker, all with the same meaning and now all obsolete except for bonzer. Some have suggested that it is a variant of British dialect bouncer meaning something remarkable – but this doesn’t explain the other forms. The most likely influence is the French word bon, meaning good

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.

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