Harold Holt does a Harry

Harold Holt in 1953. Image source: National Archives of Australia

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

Australian rhyming slang

Dame Edna pictured with Australian singer Barry Crocker, after whom the expression 'a Barry Crocker' rhyming slang for 'a shocker' (a bad or disappointing person or thing) is named.

Rhyming slang is so commonly associated with London’s East End that it is usually referred to as Cockney rhyming slang. However it’s almost as prevalent in some circles of Australian society, and Australian English has many words deriving from rhyming slang.

Continue reading