Macquarie Dictionary Blog
Posted on 5 April 2021
Ode to ocker Aussies
Aussie Word of the Week
Slip on your thongs and grab a stubbie because this week we going ocker. Referring to the archetypal uncultivated Australian working man, ocker also known as occa and okker, is generally used in a negative way to depict a chauvinistic, misogynistic, sports-loving, beer-gutted, esky-carrying, rubber-thong-wearing yob who is totally lacking in sensitivity, compassion, gentleness and insight. It's not all bad, the exact same ocker bloke can be seen in a positive way as an honest, laid-back, fair dinkum, fun-loving larrikin. An ocker bloke is an Australian cult figure, popularly satirised in the 1970s by the likes of Paul Hogan, and the Barry Humphries creation Bazza McKenzie. In origin, the term derives from the typically Aussie way of colloquialising the name Oscar. From as early as 1916 blokes named Oscar were called Ocker. In the late 1960s a TV comedy called The Mavis Bramston Show had a character named Ocker, played by Barry Creyton, who was your typical uncultivated Australian male, and it is probably from this show that the word was first disseminated throughout the country. In some ways the ocker is a predecessor of the bogan, who you can read about elsewhere 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 29 March 2021
Stopping at the servo
Aussie Word of the Week
At the Macquarie Dictionary head office, we are fond of road trips. One of our favourite parts of cruising through the outback is when you notice your fuel drop down to two bars with a hundred kilometres to go before the next servo. Oh, the thrill of not knowing whether you'll make it. Ah, the argument over why you didn't buy a jerry can. Short for service station, servos don't just sell petrol, they sell an experience. As your car splutters in to the next servo, you get the chance to stretch your legs, to buy an ice cream and stock up on desperately needed bottles of water. And you finally, finally get to use the loo. If you love a road trip, be sure to check out our blog on grey nomads. 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 25 March 2021
Boondoggle! Funny words that you should learn
The English language is a funny thing. Some words make sense and others… well they take a dictionary to decipher. There are words that will discombobulate or even cause a bit of brouhaha. But once you know their meaning they’ll make perfect sense! Unless we’re full of malarky? Let’s have a squiz at some of our favourite tongue-twisting words and you can tell us which ones you already knew in the comments below! If you’re caught cheating when playing marbles it’s called fanannywhacking or cribbing (part of our Australian Word Map), which of course only a nincompoop, or idiot (a contributor’s favourite word from this enjoyable list) would do. If you’re interested in astronomy you’d know syzygy is the conjunction or opposition of two heavenly bodies. Also a selection from our ‘beautiful words’ series. And if you’re interested in cartography you’d know exactly where Woop Woop and Kickastickalong are located. When you’re chock-a-block full of flummery you’ll probably develop the collywobbles or maybe you’ll just cark it. And if you’ve lost your wee juggler, make sure the lost signs say, ‘Major Mitchell’, white wings, pink underparts, neck and face, and white crown suffused with salmon pink and forward-curving scarlet crest. Save everyone the rigmarole and faffing around trying to find it! Some more words that are just fun to say are:
- pronking (of an animal such as a springbok) leaping into the air with all four legs extended
- widdershins in a direction contrary to the apparent course of the sun
- canoodling fondling or petting
- poop deck a raised deck built on the stern of a ship above the main deck
- lolligagging playing around foolishly or aimlessly; wasting time
- bumfuzzled confused or bewildered
- mugwump someone who acts as an independent or affects superiority, especially in politics
- pettifogging quibbling over petty details
- spondulicks money
- macaronic involving a mixture of languages
- somnambulist someone with the habit of walking about, and often of performing various other acts, while asleep; sleepwalker
Posted on 22 March 2021
Does this blog pass the pub test?
Aussie Word of the Week
The pub test is the notional measure of public opinion on a proposal or candidate arrived at by asking the average drinker in a hotel what they think. With the possibility of a Federal election in 2021, you're likely to hear and see this phrase a lot more. At this point in the blog we need to make a crucial decision: we can talk about politics or pubs. If you're a politics junkie, be sure to check out our democracy sausage blog. Otherwise, stick around for some pub related slang. Do you visit the top pub or the bottom pub? This pair of hotels sit at opposite ends of town and lie opposed to each other. Maybe you live in a one-pub town and don't even have the luxury of choosing between two watering holes for your session. If so, be sure to check out our blog on one-pub towns. Perhaps you live in a town with so many pubs you spend your Saturdays playing pub golf, a type of pub crawl in which nine pubs are visited, each of which have a certain 'par' of how many beers are to be drunk. I think anyone would be lying in the rough after a round of pub golf. 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 15 March 2021
Don't stir the pot, stir the possum!
Aussie Word of the Week
This week we are looking at provocative slang words. Do you have a mate who likes to stir the possum? That is, creates a disturbance or uproar? Stir the possum has been Aussie slang since the 1900s, so named because a sleeping possum does not take well to being stirred up. Stir the possum can also mean to instigate a debate on a controversial topic, especially in the public arena. Similar phrases include stir up, stir the hornet's nest and a personal favourite shit-stir. Sounds gross, right? The latter more specifically means to make trouble; to provoke or tease – especially just for amusement or simply for the sake of it. Similarly, a troll is someone who, protected by online anonymity, posts messages in a discussion forum, chat room, etc., which are designed to disrupt the normal flow of communication by being inflammatory or puzzling You might say that the whole world is now made up of trolls trying to stir the possum, but that's the cynical view. 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 March 2021
Replacement swear words
Bloody oath! Aussies love swearing, just ask Cate Blanchett. But there are times when swearing isn’t appropriate, like when your granny comes to visit. Don’t fret. If you need to let off some steam, or if your lingo consists mostly of language that would make your granny blush, then the Macquarie Dictionary has got you covered with these replacement swear words. Let’s start with holy... – an entire genre of replacement swear words. The list includes classics like holy cow, holy mackerel and holy moly. Other excellent additions to the genre include holy Moses – possibly the only literal entry to the list – holy smokes, and of course holy guacamole. Holy snapping duckshit is a no-no! Really, you can put just about any word after holy to create a replacement swear word. But not everything is so sacred. Australians also borrow replacement swear words from similar sounding words. Fudge and sugar are common replacements just as smarmy and sweet as the real thing. Get stuffed you galah. Interpretation – go away you empty-headed fool. Sorry, just testing out some replacement insults, which could probably be an entire blog unto itself. If you’re on the receiving end of a rough tongue, you might exclaim jeepers or blimey! These are both exclamations of surprise that will save you from resorting to stronger language. I can hear you all telling me to shut the front door. To that, I say . See, emojis can be replacement swears too.
Posted on 8 March 2021
Flat out like a lizard drinking
Aussie Word of the Week
Phew. Busy, busy, busy. I am flat out like a lizard drinking at the Macquarie office this week. This scaly phrase is a way of saying that we are working as hard or as fast as possible. Australian English has some great ways of saying you are working hard. Graft simply means hard work. Aussie slang since the 1890s, graft is also a verb: we'd been grafting all day long. Hence, grafter, a hard worker. Hard graft sits one level up from graft. Australians have been rolling up their sleeves and getting down to the hard graft since the 1870s. Yakka or hard yakka is an iconic Aussie phrase. Meaning hard work, especially manual labour, yakka has been part of Aussie slang since at least the 1880s. Yakka comes from the Aboriginal language Yagara, from the Brisbane region. Yakka is commonly heard in the phrase all yack and no yakka, used to describe someone who's always talking about what they're going to do instead of doing it. In contrast to all these hard working words, to bash the spine is to sleep. This great Aussie layabout slang has helped the lazy among us make sleep sound like hard work since the 1940s. 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 March 2021
Five new words being considered for the Macquarie Dictionary
Welcome to March. Summer is slipping away. Soon it will just be a memory of sunburn on your skin after a long day at the beach. If you dread short days and chilly weather, console yourself with these six new words. Ah, the sizzle of bacon on the frying pan. If you love bacon you might describe yourself as a baconeer: a bacon aficionado. Maybe you take your plate of bacon to your grandmillenial style living room. That is, a style of home decorating by millennials that is inspired by their grandparents decorating style. As far as jobs go, bloodbiker sound like an interesting career choice. Not quite as cyberpunk as it sounds, but still as impressive, a bloodbiker is a motorcycle rider who transports blood between hospitals. Let me e-troduce you to my friend. To e-troduce is to introduce two people who haven't met over email. Our final new word is kangaroo word. We thought this was cute and clever. A kangaroo word is a word that contains all the letters of one of its synonyms (known as a 'joey word') For example, masculine contains all the letters for 'male.' Let us know if you have any other suggestions. We are always happy to hear new words, no matter how big or small a usage they may have. Be sure to vote for some of these when we post them on our Instagram stories. See other words suggested to the Macquarie Dictionary here.
Posted on 1 March 2021
All hail the bin chicken
Aussie Word of the Week
This week we are paying homage to a national icon. The bin chicken graces towns and cities across the land. When rubbish is strewn across the footpath who is there to clean up the mess? The bin chicken, of course. If you're unfamiliar with the name, the bin chicken is none other than the Australian white ibis, so named from its habit of rummaging in garbage bins for food. A habit which also earned them the less common nicknames dump chook and tip turkey. The ibis has a white body, black secondary feathers and a bald black head and bill. They are found throughout Australia, New Guinea, the Maluku and nearby islands. Once rare in urban areas, they have been migrating to urban areas along the east coast of Australia since the 1970s. The bin chicken has pecked and scavenged its way into Australian culture. You'll find them celebrated in graffiti murals and emblazoned in hats and other merchandise. Dare we say it the bin chicken is competing with the kangaroo for the position of most iconic Australian animal. To read more about our beloved Aussie fauna, check out our fawning over Aussie fauna 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 22 February 2021
Who lives in a house like this? Queensland style
Aussie Word of the Week
In this week's blog we are looking at architecture, to be precise, the architecture of Queensland. Queenslander isn't just a loud chant you hear at the football, it's also a highset weatherboard house of the type commonly found in, you guessed it, Queensland. It's hot up north. What better design for your house than to set it on stilts to let the air flow through your property while simultaneously staying above potential floodwater in a state known for cyclones and epic storms? That's right, there isn't one but there are variations on the theme. An Ashgrovian is a multi-gabled, bungalow-style variation of the Queenslander house, that was popular in the period between the two World Wars. Still in Queensland, a Queen Street bushie is a derogatory name for someone who owns a country property, often, formerly, for tax loss purposes, but who lives and works in Brisbane. The other states have variations on this theme. The Victorian equivalent is a Collins Street cocky, while in New South Wales the name is Pitt Street farmer. Over in Western Australia they are called St Georges Terrace Cockies. 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 19 February 2021
"More Than Words: The Making of the Macquarie Dictionary"
The idea for a dictionary of Australian English was conceived in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 1981 that the first edition of the Macquarie Dictionary was published. More Than Words tells the story of how the dictionary was brought to life during this period – from identifying the need for a genuinely Australian dictionary to the long road towards publication – and explores how the dictionary has evolved over the years since then. The publication of the Macquarie Dictionary signalled the end of the huge struggle to claim validity and dignity for Australian speech, words and expressions, and patterns of language. Written by Pat Manser, who worked as a research editor for the first Macquarie Dictionary, More Than Words recounts the story behind the dictionary that gave a full account of Australian English as it was heard and written in the speech of labourers, the jargon of merchants, swearwords, Australianisms, as well as the basic core of English vocabulary.
Posted on 15 February 2021
Hop in, we're going to chuck a lap
Aussie Word of the Week
Hop in. This week we are chucking a lap down the main street of Macquarie Town. To chuck a lap is to drive around the block as a form of entertainment. The hoons spent Saturday night chucking laps. Since this is nearly always done off the main street it is also called chucking a mainy. In Whyalla, a hoon around the beach is chucking a beachie. On the way, they might even incorporate a doughnut. Australians like to chuck things. A hoon that gets pulled over by the cops while chucking a lap might chuck a micky. That is, throw a tantrum. There is a veritable plethora of putdowns on this same theme meant to belittle the person who has lost their temper. These include: chuck a mental, chuck a nana, chuck a wobbly and many more. Perhaps the most famous instance of all in Australian English is chuck a U-ey. While everyone says it, no-one is really sure how to spell this great Aussie word. Other efforts have been u-ie, uee, and even youee. Whatever way you spell it, just be sure to follow the road rules. 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.