Biscuits in Australian English

A tin of assorted Arnotts biscuits.

 

by Mark Gwynn

A ‘biscuit’ in Australian English is a small cake that is typically crisp and flat. Biscuits can be either sweet (these are known as ‘cookies’ in North America) or savoury. In Australia there are a number of significant biscuits that have made their way into the lexicon, and several form the basis of Australian English idioms. Some of the best-known biscuits and biscuit-related terms are discussed below.

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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.

Ye olde counter lunch

Great Central Hotel c. 1910, Glen Innes NSW

 by Mark Gwynn

In Australian English a counter lunch is a midday meal served in the bar of a hotel or public house; the term derives from the counter at which the meals were originally served. Its purpose is to entice customers to patronise the bar by offering cheap food.

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Mem Fox and thirty years of Possum Magic

by Julia Robinson

Mem Fox. Image source: www.memfox.net

This week we celebrate the birthday of Mem Fox (born 5 March 1946), Australian writer of children’s books. She is the author of such favourite picture books as Koala Lou, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, and Wombat Divine, but the book that made her a household name is her first book, Possum Magic, the runaway bestseller that has sold several million copies since it was published in 1983. It is the tale of possums Hush and Grandma Poss, who leave their bush home to find a cure for Hush’s magic invisibility. Continue reading

The Melbournisation of Sydney

by Julia Robinson

In a twist on the usual Sydney–Melbourne rivalry (aka Sin City vs Bleak City), Sydneysiders have begun to notice the effects of a distinctly Melbourne influence on their Harbour City. It’s known as the Melbournisation of Sydney, a trend in urban development:

The Melbournisation of Sydney has been most evident in the past 10 years. We’ve made our restaurants feel like basements, turned the lights down to Euro-Melburnian dimness, lobbied the government to get small bar licences, and allowed our Italians to cook Tuscan and Ligurian instead of Leichhardtian. (Sydney Morning Herald, 24 July 2010) Continue reading

Lords and lamingtons

by Julia Robinson

This week marks the birthday of the second Baron Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. Baron Lamington – full name Charles Wallace Alexander Napier Cochrane-Baillie – may have been the inspiration for the lamington, a small cake dipped in chocolate icing, rolled in coconut, and considered as Australian as the Anzac biscuit or the iced vovo.

The first mention of lamington appears in print in 1901 in the Brisbane Queenslander a few days before Lord and Lady Lamington left Government House at the end of their antipodean posting. The editor of the ‘Women’s Club’ column replies to a correspondent: ‘Native Born.—Have not heard of a recipe for  ”Lamington cake”. Can you give some clue to the appearance and ingredients of the cake?’ (14 December 1901) Continue reading