‘simples’: meaning and origin

interjection used to suggest that something can be done or understood with no difficulty—UK, 2009—from the catchword uttered by Aleksandr Orlov, an animated Russian meerkat, in a television advertising campaign for comparethemarket.com

Read More

‘panda’ (as applied to a pedestrian crossing)

UK, 1962—a type of pedestrian crossing distinguished by black-and-white chevrons marked on the road, and having traffic warning lights activated by people wishing to cross—alludes to the black-and-white fur of the giant panda

Read More

‘Barney’s bull’: meanings and early occurrences

Australia, 1834—used in various phrases, in particular as a type of someone or something in a very bad state or condition—also in the phrase ‘all behind like Barney’s bull’, meaning ‘very delayed’ or ‘backward’—origin unknown

Read More

‘may your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny down’

Australia, 1972—a jocular curse—the Australian National Dictionary Centre explains that this phrase “recalls an earlier time when many Australians kept chooks (domestic chickens) in the backyard and the dunny was a separate outhouse”

Read More

‘Socceroo’: meaning and origin

(plural) the Australian men’s national soccer team; (singular) a member of this team—originated in 1972 as the name of the mascot of the Australian men’s national soccer team, created for the 1974 FIFA World Cup

Read More

‘to shoot the cat’: meaning (and origin?)

to vomit, especially from drunkenness—slang, obsolete—UK, 1785—perhaps alludes to the fact that cats are prone to vomit—cf. also the obsolete French verb ‘renarder’, to vomit, from the noun ‘renard’, denoting a fox

Read More