Chuck a berko, sickie, wobbly…

Nick Kyrgios chucking a tennis racquet

Nick Kyrgios chucking a wobbly.

by Mark Gwynn

In Australian English the word chuck is often found in phrases where it means ‘to perform’, ‘to do’, or ‘to put on’— as in chuck a wobbly (a variant of the Standard English throw a wobbly). While this use of chuck is not exclusively Australian, there are a number of well-established forms that suggest its resonance in the national idiom. The earliest, dating from the 1940s, is chuck a willy (become angry; have a fit of annoyance or temper). Most other chuck expressions appear much later, from the 1970s on.

chuck a berko: display an outburst of anger, become angry. In Australian English berko means ‘mad, crazy, or angry’, and is an alteration of berserk. ‘Real narkie bastard. Ignore you for months, then chuck a berko over nothin’.’ (R. Sims, The Shadow Maker, 2007) There are a number of variant expressions with a similar meaning, including chuck a wobblychuck a willy, and chuck a mickey.

chuck a browneye: make the rude gesture of bending over and exposing one’s buttocks and anus. ‘I haven’t laughed so much since me and Rory gave browneyes to a busload of rubbernecks’. (Tracks, August 1978)

chuck a sickie: take a day’s sick leave from work (with the implication that the person is not really ill). One of the nation’s most familiar workplace idioms. ‘The pressure of letting down a mate is stronger than the lure of ‘chucking a sickie’, an innovative wages deal among New South Wales ferry deckhands has found.(Courier-Mail, September 1999)

chuck a uey: do a U-turn. The shortening uey for ‘U-turn’ in Australian English is usually found in the expression chuck a uey or do a uey. The phrase usually refers to motor vehicles, but can be found in other contexts too:  ‘Motorist Priya Wickremasena, 41, saw the 1.5m saltwater croc sitting in the middle of the road. “All of a sudden he chucked a U-ey, and then started chasing me”, he said.’ (Herald Sun, December 2011)

We would love to hear more examples of phrases beginning with chuck a … that you may know or use. Please help us add to our collection!




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