Macquarie Dictionary


Political slang: from gaffes to faceless men

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.

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