Words from our Word Box: update 16


Click on the logo to go to the Word Box page

Click on the logo to go to the Word Box page

by the ANDC team

This is the third update for 2016 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 to Word Box.

alt-right – a variety of right-wing individuals and groups who present their views as an alternative to traditional conservative political ideologies in the USA. Much of the activity of the alt-right takes place online. The term is an abbreviation of alternative right, but it may also be influenced by the ‘alt’ key on a computer keyboard. The term has been prevalent in media coverage of the 2016 US presidential election.


aquafaba – a liquid residue from cooked legumes which can be used as an egg white substitute. The term is apparently a coinage of an American, Goose Wohlt, who was experimenting with the liquid to create meringues acceptable to vegans. The word is formed from the Latin words aqua (water) and faba (bean). The term was coined in early 2015.

dishy – a person whose occupation is to wash dishes in a cafe, restaurant, etc.; a dishwasher. Dishy follows a very common linguistic pattern in Australian English where a word (in this case dishwasher) is abbreviated and then a -y (or -ie) suffix added. Some of the most recognisable words in this category include Aussie (Australian), barbie (barbecue), budgie (budgerigar), and tradie (tradesman). There is evidence for this term from the early 2000s.

Queen Elizabeth II and her very cute dorgis.

Queen Elizabeth II and her very cute dorgies.

dorgi – a type of dog that is a cross between a dachshund and a corgi. Many crossbreed dogs have in recent years been given specific names, such as a labradoodle (cross between a labrador and a poodle) or a jug (cross between a Jack Russell terrier and a pug). One such breed is the dorgi, brought to our attention in a recent photograph of Queen Elizabeth II.

NEET – a young person who is no longer in the education system and who is not working or being trained for work. This term is an acronym of ‘not in education, employment, or training’. A recent flurry of moral panic in one Australian newspaper suggested that the NEET had become Australia’s ‘new bludger’. The term is however used especially in Britain, and is recorded from the early 21st century.


swipers – people who steal groceries or cheat the system at a self-serve checkout. This term was purportedly coined by Australian National University criminologist Emmeline Taylor. The word is an acronym of ‘seemingly well-intentioned patrons engaging in routine shoplifting’. It certainly helps that there is already an existing word swipe meaning to steal or appropriate, recorded originally in US slang from the 19th century. Swipe has also been used as a verb since the 1990s meaning ‘pass (a swipe card) through an electronic device designed to read and process the information encoded on it’. Swipers is recorded from this year and, if people continue to pass off their organic gourmet tomatoes as regular ones, we may see more of this term in the years to come.

you bet you are, you bet I am – a jocular emphatic reply to a question. This mangled phrase was used by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2014. Asked what he would be saying to Russian President Vladimir Putin after the downing of flight MH-17, Abbott famously said he would shirtfront Mr Putin at the G20 summit to be held in Brisbane that year. The phrase has since gained some momentum in Australian English as a humorous way of saying ‘I definitely will’ or ‘absolutely’.