‘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

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‘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”

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‘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

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‘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

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‘Bugs Bunny’ (i.e., an eagle)

Australia, 1954—derogatory nickname for the metal eagle at the top of the Australian-American Memorial in Canberra—alludes to the fact that, from a distance, the eagle’s upswept wings look like a rabbit’s ears

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‘dinnyhayser’: meanings (and origin?)

Australia, 1878—a knockout blow; anything of exceptional size or force—allegedly alludes to a boxer called Dinny Hayes—but no evidence supports this allegation

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‘panier de crabes’: meaning and origin

1942—an arena of fierce or ruthless rivalry—borrowed from French: literally ‘basket of crabs’—the image is of crabs fighting, if not devouring one another, when kept in a basket

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