Today marks the 104th birthday of former Prime Minister Harold Holt. Tragically on 17 December 1967 Holt went missing while swimming in rough seas at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria. After extensive searches it was presumed that he had drowned. The disappearance of a serving Prime Minister sparked much speculation in the years to follow, including the suggestion of suicide and the long-running urban myth that he had been picked up by a Chinese submarine. The circumstances surrounding Holt’s disappearance led to the creation of one of Australian English’s more recent rhyming slang terms. Continue reading
by Mark Gwynn
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Watergate scandal. On 17 June 1972 five men were arrested when they were caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington D.C. It later transpired that officials in President Richard Nixon’s Republican administration had been involved, and the scandal ultimately led to the resignation of Nixon in 1974.
by Julia Robinson
Do you know the word stormstick for umbrella? Neville Chamberlain (pictured) probably didn’t, but he knew the well-dressed British politician needed one (along with homburg, gloves, hanky, and beautiful shiny shoes). A stormstick was a familiar Chamberlain accessory during his Prime Ministership.
by Mark Gwynn
Apparently not! The Australian word ranga is often used derogatively as a name for a red-haired person. It is derived from orang-utan – a reddish-haired primate found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. The evidence for this word goes back to the early 2000s but has become more prolific in the last few years.