Shake-a-leg

by Julia Robinson

Twenty years ago the traditional Indigenous dance, shake-a-leg, became front page news. It was performed outside the High Court in Canberra to celebrate the court’s historic Wik decision, which held that statutory pastoral leases do not automatically extinguish native title rights. One of the claimants, a Wik elder, marked the occasion by dancing. It was the first time many Australians had seen or heard the term shake-a-leg:

Gladys Tybingoompa dances outside the High Court.

Wik claimant Gladys Tybingoompa dances outside the High Court.

Gladys Tybingoompa could contain her exuberance no longer. She reached into her handbag, produced a pair of clap-sticks and whirled into a wild song and dance of victory. For a moment or two, every face around the normally sombre precincts of the High Court of Australia appeared to be wreathed in smiles as Ms Tybingoompa leapt and kicked through the dance she called ‘Shake a Leg’. She had travelled all the way from Cape York to Canberra to hear the High Court’s opinion of her people’s rights to their traditional land. (Sydney Morning Herald, 24 December 1996) Continue reading

Tip turkey (Word of the Month for August 2015)

by the ANDC staff

tip turkey for blog

The Oxford Word of the Month is written by members of the Australian National Dictionary Centre and published each month by Oxford University Press Australia. Each Word of the Month looks at an Australian word or term in some detail, providing a history of the term and its role in current Australian society. If you wish to receive Word of the Month by email you can subscribe at the Oxford University Press Australia website.

Our Word of the Month for August 2015 is ‘tip turkey’: the white ibis, Threskiornis moluccus, often regarded as a pest in urban areas because of its scavenging at tips, etc. The evidence for this term goes back to 2009. The increasing numbers of these birds found scavenging from bins in parks and in other urban areas has led to a number of similar epithets including ‘bin chicken’ and ‘dump chook’. You can read the full Word of the Month in PDF form on our website or read it in an online format.

Hoon operation (Word of the Month for July 2015)

Hoon 1

 

by the ANDC staff

The Oxford Word of the Month is written by members of the Australian National Dictionary Centre and published each month by Oxford University Press Australia. Each Word of the Month looks at an Australian word or term in some detail, providing a history of the term and its role in current Australian society. If you wish to receive Word of the Month by email you can subscribe at the Oxford University Press Australia website.

Our Word of the Month for July 2015 is ‘hoon operation’: a police campaign targeting dangerous drivers. This term goes back to the early 2000s. The word ‘hoon’ in Australian English goes back to the early 20th century when it referred to a pimp. Since the 1980s ‘hoon’ has been applied to young people who drive cars dangerously. You can read the full Word of the Month in PDF form on our website or read it in an online format.

Words from our Word Box: update 11

by the ANDC team

Click on the logo to go the Word Box page

Click on the logo to go the Word Box page

This is the second update for 2015 on contributions to our Word Box, the website feature you can use to alert us to new or unfamiliar words and phrases. These contributions allow us to identify new material for our archive of Australian words, and also for our general Australian Oxford dictionaries. We encourage you to contribute—just click on the Word Box image to the left to post your word. We welcome any comments about your understanding or experience of these words, and look forward to your next contributions. This update includes a selection of the terms you have posted recently. Interestingly, several of these (such as mocktail and rent-seeker) already have a long history, but have become more widely used in recent times. Continue reading

Hubbard (Word of the Month for June 2015)

by the ANDC team

unfashionable

The Oxford Word of the Month is written by members of the Australian National Dictionary Centre and published each month by Oxford University Press Australia. Each Word of the Month looks at an Australian word or term in some detail, providing a history of the term and its role in current Australian society. If you wish to receive Word of the Month by email you can subscribe at the Oxford University Press Australia website.

Our Word of the Month for June 2015 is ‘hubbard’: an inexperienced, unskilled, or unfashionably attired cyclist. The disparaging term ‘hubbard’ is frequently found on Australian blog sites dedicated to cycling. You can read the full Word of the Month in PDF form on our website or read it in an online format.

Footwear in Australian English

Oz shoe

by Mark Gwynn

There are a number of terms in Australian English related to footwear. Several of these are associated with footwear worn originally by workers in rural areas of Australia, where sturdy boots were necessary in industries such as farming and droving, and for working in rugged outback terrain. Our beach culture too has generated terms for boots and shoes. A number of Australianisms related to footwear are discussed below. Continue reading

Spill (Word of the Month for May 2015)

spill

 

by the ANDC team

The Oxford Word of the Month is written by members of the Australian National Dictionary Centre and published each month by Oxford University Press Australia. Each Word of the Month looks at an Australian word or term in some detail, providing a history of the term and its role in current Australian society. If you wish to receive Word of the Month by email you can subscribe at the Oxford University Press Australia website.

Our Word of the Month for May 2015 is ‘spill’: the deliberate creation of vacant positions in a cabinet, political party, or organisation. This Australian sense of ‘spill’ goes back to the 1940s, and describes a common phenomenon in Australian politics. You can read the full Word of the Month in PDF form on our website or read it in an online format.

Percy Sledge and cricket

by Julia Robinson

images-1Percy Sledge, the American R&B singer who shot to fame in the 1960s with the hit song When a Man loves a Woman, died this week. He seems an unlikely person to be associated with Australian English, especially with a term used in the quintessentially colonial game of cricket. But there is a purported connection, even though it is doubtful.

Continue reading

Big stoush (Word of the Month for April 2015)

Big Stoush

by the ANDC team

The Oxford Word of the Month is written by members of the Australian National Dictionary Centre and published each month by Oxford University Press Australia. Each Word of the Month looks at an Australian word or term in some detail, providing a history of the term and its role in current Australian society. If you wish to receive Word of the Month by email you can subscribe at the Oxford University Press Australia website.

Our Word of the Month for April 2015 is ‘big stoush’: the First World War. ‘Big stoush’ was used briefly in Australian English to refer to this war, and derives from another Australian sense of ‘stoush’ meaning ‘to punch, strike, or thrash a person’. You can read the full Word of the Month in PDF form on our website or read it in an online format.

Words from our Word Box: update 10

by the ANDC team

Click on the logo to go the Word Box page

Click on the logo to go the Word Box page

This is the first update for 2015 on contributions to our Word Box, the website feature you can use to alert us to new or unfamiliar words and phrases. These contributions allow us to identify new material for our archive of Australian words, and also for our general Australian Oxford dictionaries. We encourage you to contribute—just click on the Word Box image to the left to post your word. A few of the more interesting contributions from the last three months are discussed below; some are new to us, and some we already know. We welcome any comments about your understanding or experience of these words, and look forward to your contributions this year. Continue reading