The story of ‘dob’

by Bruce Moore

Bruce Moore is a former director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, who is currently editing the second edition of the Australian National DictionaryThe following is an extract from his book What’s their Story? A History of Australian Words (published by Oxford University Press Australia, 2010). 

what's their story image

What’s their Story? gives a detailed account of many of the iconic words in Australian English. 

The verb dob has a range of meanings in Australian English. The most common meaning (often in the form dob in, dob into, or dob on) is ‘to inform upon, to incriminate’: (2009) ‘A soldier who stole two cameras while he was working as a storeman at Robertson Barracks was only found out when his ex-wife dobbed him into the military police, a court has heard.’¹ It can also (and less commonly) mean ‘to impose a responsibility upon (often a matter of getting someone to do an unpopular or difficult task)’: ‘I fear I’ve dobbed myself in to doing something silly. Yep, in my haste to help drought-stricken farmers I stuck my hand in the air and said I’d organise a team from my office to take part in the Paddo’s Beach Volleyball Charity Day on Sunday.’² As dob in it can also mean ‘to contribute money to a common cause’: (1956) ‘The whole town dobbed in and bought Charlie and Russ a new boat.’³ Finally, in Australian Rules football, dob can mean ‘to kick (the ball) long and accurately; to kick (a goal)’: ‘Mark Blake dobbed the ball deep into the Cats’ goal square and into the waiting arms of Chapman’;4 (2008) ‘But Lloyd dobbed a long goal.’5 Are all these meanings related? Continue reading

Tim Tam slam (Word of the Month for August 2014)

tim

 

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 August is Tim Tam slam: the activity of using a Tim Tam biscuit as a straw to suck coffee (or other hot beverage) through, before eating it. There is written evidence for this term in the form Tim Tam suck from the 1980s. View the video below to get a demonstration of the Tim Tam slam. You can read the full Word of the Month in PDF form on our website or read it in an online format.

Kangaroo route (Word of the Month for July 2014)

 

Winston Churchill says g'day to 'Digger' the kangaroo in 1947.

Winston Churchill says g’day to ‘Digger’ the kangaroo at the London Zoo in 1947.

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.

kangaroo route

 

Our Word of the Month for July is ‘kangaroo route’: a name for an air route between Australia and the United Kingdom via a stopover in another country, originally as flown by Qantas. The term appeared in the period of the Second World War when there were several stopovers in south-east Asia and the Middle East. 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 7

Click on the logo to go to the Word Box page

by the ANDC team

This is the second update for 2014 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 general Australian Oxford dictionaries and also for our archive of Australian words. We like to share our recent findings through regular updates. We thank everyone for their submissions and 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.

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Headland speech (Word of the Month for June 2014)

Former Australian prime minister John Howard

Former Australian prime minister John Howard

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.

A headland in Saltwater National Park, NSW

A headland in Saltwater National Park, NSW

 

Our Word of the Month for June is ‘headland speech’: a significant political speech, especially one setting out major policy. The term appears to have been coined in 1995 by the then Australian opposition leader John Howard. You can read the full Word of the Month in PDF form on our website or read it in an online format.

A different meaning

by Mark Gwynn

There are a number of Australian English words, commonly used by and familiar to most Australians, that have shifted their meaning, or had different meanings, over time. Some of these different meanings are subtle, while others are more significant, but the history of the word tells us something about changes in Australian society and attitudes. Many current speakers of Australian English might be unaware of these earlier and alternative meanings of these words, several of which are discussed below.

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Checkout chick (Word of the Month for May 2014)

by the ANDC teamcheckout chick girl

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.

boy checkout chick Our Word of the Month for May is ‘checkout chick’: a checkout operator at a supermarket. There is evidence for this term from the 1970s. While the stereotypical ‘checkout chick’ was a girl or woman (hence ‘chick’) the term now refers to boys and men as well. You can read the full Word of the Month in PDF form on our website or read it in an online format.

Sparrow ticket (Word of the Month for April 2014)

A caption from the Adelaide 'Mail', 18th February 1933, via Trove digitised newspapers (National Library of Australia)

A caption from the Adelaide ‘Mail’, 18th February 1933, via Trove digitised newspapers (National Library of Australia)

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 is ‘sparrow ticket’: a means of gaining admission to, or viewing, an event such as a sporting match without paying for a ticket. A term that was quite common in the first half of the 20th century but is rarely found in written records today. 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 6

by the ANDC team

wordbox image

Click on the logo to go to the Word Box page

This is our first update for 2014 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 our editors to identify new material for our general Australian Oxford dictionaries and also for our archive of Australian words. We like to share our recent findings with you through regular updates. We thank everyone for their submissions and 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.

Continue reading

Doing a Bradbury – an Aussie term born in the Winter Olympics

by Mark Gwynn

Bradbury

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years the names of many individual people have added colour to the Australian English vocabulary. The technical term for words deriving from people’s names is eponym (from the Greek epi ‘upon’ + onoma ‘name’). Eponymous people in Australian English include Anna Pavlova (ballerina), Barry Crocker (actor and singer), Baron Lamington (Governor of Queensland ), Ned Kelly (bushranger), Dame Nellie Melba (singer),  Dorothy Dix (journalist), Sylvanus Bowser (inventor), Maria ‘Granny’ Smith (gardener), Reginald Grundy (television producer), and Harold Holt (Prime Minister) to name a few.* One of the more recent names we can add to this list is former Australian Olympian Steven Bradbury.

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