Words from our Word Box: update 17

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 our final 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.

adulting – behaving like a grown-up. ‘I’m adulting today – I just paid all my bills before I did any online shopping!’ It is a word used especially by Generation Y. It has been around for a number of years, popularised by a book by US author Kelly Williams Brown, ‘Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps’ (2013). The use of the word adult as a verb has increased in 2016.

imgres-3bank of mum and dad – a person’s parents regarded as a source of financial support and assistance. This phrase has recently been in the Australian media in the context of the younger generations increasingly seeking parental assistance for their first property purchase. While the financial difficulties of first home-buyers breaking into the market has come to the fore in recent years, the term itself is not new. The Oxford English Dictionary has evidence for the bank of mum (or mom) and dad from 1984 and labels it as originally North American.

drunk-chairdrunk chair – a light-framed wheelchair used to transport a drunk person from a party, venue, etc. for medical attention. This addition to Australian furniture was seen in the media this year in the context of party revellers at the Melbourne Cup and at Schoolies’ Week celebrations on the Gold Coast.

glassie – an employee in a bar, pub, etc. whose main job is to clear away used glasses. This is an Australian term dating back to 1996. It follows a very common Australian way of creating words in its use of the -y (or -ie) suffix. See our previous Word Box update for a counterpart to this term: dishy. In the case of glassie, it is perhaps an abbreviation of ‘glass cleaner’ or ‘glass clearer’ plus the -y suffix, or perhaps simply glass + -y.


lob – a hairstyle in the form of a longer than usual bob. (A ‘bob’ is a style in which the hair is cut short and evenly all round so that it hangs above the shoulders.) This term has been around for at least a decade and is a blend of long and bob. It has been noted by some as the ‘haircut of  2016’.

skyr – a soft cheese made from skim milk, marketed as a type of yoghurt. Pronounced to rhyme with ‘beer’, this cultured dairy product is traditionally eaten in Iceland and can be traced back to Norway over 1000 years ago. High in protein but low in fat and sugar, this food has been hitting the gastronomical radar outside Europe in recent years.

thunderstorm asthma – an asthma attack triggered by a large storm which changes the size and dispersion rates of pollen particles in the air. This term came to prominence in Australia during an outbreak in Melbourne in November, overwhelming ambulance services and emergency departments, and resulting in a number of deaths and a big spike in hospital admissions. The term can be found from the 1990s and appears more common in Australian evidence, perhaps as a result of several serious outbreaks of the phenomenon in Melbourne since the 1980s.