Creative ways to talk about getting fired

Aug 21, 2019
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It's an unfortunate situation to be fired, but luckily, the Australian language contains a variety of words and phrases to help make talking about it (always a healthy thing to do) a little easier. Please note, if you have been fired or know someone who has been fired and want to make sure they are doing okay, please seek support through your community and/or local organisation.

The most common terminology for this phenomena is to dismiss or terminate, however the term we are using for the purposes of this blog is fired. Meaning "to dismiss (an employee) from a job", this pretty much sums it up. And from here, the ways we talk about this only get more creative.

Think about getting the sack. This interesting term originates from the Middle Ages, when a very particular punishment of being sewn into and drowned in a sack was doled out for the crime of murdering a parent. Obviously a very different meaning, but the gist is similar. It crops up with the current meaning around the 17th century and has retained this meaning ever since.

Of course, it doesn't stop there. English speakers have embellished this sense of getting the sack and expanded it to include getting the boot (or the somewhat charmingly phrased order of the boot), the axe, the spear and even, in Australia in particular, the arse. This last one is also used on its own, so instead of getting the arse, you can simply be arseholed, or fired from your job.

A phrase with a bit more of a fluid motion to it is to give someone the flick. This also means to dismiss, sack or send someone packing and has been Aussie slang since at least the 1980s. Little known to most people is that this is actually from rhyming slang flick pass for 'arse' – thus, to give someone the flickpass is to give them the arse, which we've already discussed. As an alternative, some have suggested that the phrase derives from the advertising slogan of the Flick Pest Control company: 'One flick and they're gone'.

Surprisingly, these are not all the words used to describe this experience. What others have you used and/or heard about? Comment and let us know.


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