Words from our Word Box: update 3

Click on the logo to go to the Word Box page

by the ANDC team

This is our third update on the contributions that have been made to the Australian National Dictionary Centre’s Word Box, our website feature which 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, and to share these findings with you. We thank everyone for their submissions and encourage you to contribute—just click on the Word Box image at left to post your word. A few of the more interesting contributions from the last three months are discussed below. Some we have come across previously and some are new to us. We welcome any comments about your understanding or experience of these words.

anti-vaxxer – a person who opposes vaccination; a parent who does not allow their child to be given routine vaccinations against diseases such as chickenpox, rubella, whooping cough, and mumps. Evidence from 2010.

cray cray (also cray) – crazy. ‘Cray’ is an abbreviation of ‘crazy’, reduplicated in the ‘cray cray’ form. Found widely on the internet, social media, and popular culture—a word meme. Evidence from the early 2000s.

doona day – a day off work for relaxation or staying in bed; a sickie. An Australian term formed from another Australian word ‘doona’ (a thick soft quilt with a detachable cover, used instead of or with blankets; a duvet). ‘Doona’ is a proprietary name for a bed quilt and probably derives from a Scandinavian form of the word ‘down’, the under-plumage of a duck, used in stuffing quilts, cushions, and pillows. Evidence for ‘doona day’ from 1996.

getting off at Richmond – a euphemism for the practice of coitus interruptus (sexual intercourse in which the penis is withdrawn before ejaculation) as a form of contraception. This Australian phrase is an adaptation of an earlier term with the same meaning (occurring from the 1960s), ‘getting off at Redfern’. ‘Redfern’ refers to the last Sydney suburban train stop (from a southern direction) before Central Station—the end of the line. Getting off at Richmond is the Melbourne equivalent; Richmond is the last suburban stop before reaching Melbourne’s main city station at Flinders Street. Evidence from the mid-1990s.

iGeneration – the generation born in the late 1990s and early 2000s (sometimes also called Generation Z). The ‘i’ prefix refers to  the internet-based technologies this generation has grown up with. The use of the prefix was popularised by the Apple brand of computers and portable devices such as the iMac (introduced in 1998), and later the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.  It has also been used by other companies and products, but the ‘i’ prefix is particularly associated with Apple. Evidence from the early 2000s.

hate reading – the activity of reading or following a blog, social media site, or columnist for the purpose of criticising or ridiculing a particular author and his or her views. Evidence from the last couple of years.

manny – a male nanny. A blend of ‘male’ and ‘nanny’. It follows the pattern of other recent word blends based on ‘male’, such as ‘meggings’ (male leggings). Evidence from the mid-1980s.

push present – a gift given to a woman after the birth of her child (usually given by the father). ‘Push’ refers to the process of childbirth. Evidence from the early 2000s.

schmidi – a glass of beer between the size of a middy and a schooner. This is an Australian term that combines the Australian terms ‘middy’ (a medium-sized glass of beer) and ‘schooner’ (a large glass of beer); the exact size of middies and schooners varies from State to State in Australia. Evidence from the last couple of years.

5 thoughts on “Words from our Word Box: update 3

  1. John I haven’t heard this one pronounced before. If we take into account similar forms in Australian English one could predict that it is pronounced ‘shmidi’.

  2. On yesterday’s (6/6/13) ABC afternoon radio programme with Chris Coleman it was claimed that ‘doona’ is an Australian word. I doubt it.

    I’m 67, a 6th generation Australian and I first heard the word from my sister’s German/Polish in-laws who were post WW2 refugees.

    Until the migrants came, most Australians slept under sheets and blankets. There were eiderdowns – not generally stuffed with down – for colder nights. Never doonas.


    Antonia Feitz

    • It’s interesting that you heard this after WWII from your German/Polish in-laws, Antonia. We know that ‘Doona’ was used as a proprietary name for a duvet from the early 1970s in Australia (the brand was ‘Kimpton’), and the reason we now claim it as an Australian English word is because the use of the word has changed. Australians now use ‘doona’ as a generic term to describe any duvet, not just the original brand. (Similarly, we now use ‘esky’ to mean an insulated cooler, but ‘Esky’ was originally a brand name.)

      We don’t know why Kimpton chose the word ‘Doona’ for their quilts, but there are a number of languages that have similar word forms for the under-plumage of a duck (the traditional stuffing for duvets), such as the Swedish word ‘dun’, the German ‘Daunen’, and of course the English ‘down’. Currently we think it likely that ‘doona’ is derived from one such form.

      It would be fascinating to know if post-war migrants contributed to the history of ‘doona’. We will keep investigating.

    • Update on doona:
      A Polish-speaker tells me that ‘the Polish word for “quilt” is “koldra”, and for “doona”, “pierzyna”. “Pierzyna” is a more traditional word.’

      My bilingual German dictionary gives the word ‘Federbett’ for duvet, ‘Daunenbett’ for eiderdown, and ‘Schlafdecke’ for quilt.

Comments are closed.