‘wood-and-water joey’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1847—an odd-job man—‘wood-and-water’ alludes to the phrase ‘hewer of wood and drawer of water’, designating a labourer of the lowest kind—‘joey’ is perhaps the noun denoting a young kangaroo, and by extension anything young or small

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‘brown bomber’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1950—a traffic warden in the state of New South Wales—‘brown’ probably refers to the colour of those traffic wardens’ uniform—‘bomber’ may refer to the fact that many of those traffic wardens were originally war veterans; or perhaps to the Australian-English use of the noun ‘bomb’ for an old car

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‘spud-barber’: meaning and origin

jocular—denotes ‘one who peels potatoes’—also used as a verb meaning ‘to peel potatoes’—1915, USA—other early occurrences, Australia

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‘Red Sea pedestrian’: meaning and origin

UK, 1912—humorous: a Jewish person—refers to the Crossing of the Red Sea, as recounted in the Book of Exodus—coined on various occasions by different persons, independently from each other

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‘spine-bash’: meaning and origin

Australia—meaning: (as a verb) to rest or spend time in an aimless, idle way; (as a noun) an instance or period of resting—origin: Army slang, Second World War, from the notion of lying on one’s back

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‘to come a gutser’: meanings and origin

Australian soldiers’ slang, 1917—literally: to fall heavily; figuratively: to suffer a failure or defeat—‘gutser’ (Scotland, 1901): originally denoted a belly flop—derived from ‘gut’ in the sense of the belly

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‘roaring forties’: literal and figurative meanings

(1836) stormy ocean tracts between latitudes 40° and 50° south—(1867) the fifth decade of life—(1888) the 1840s—(1913) the stretch of Broadway through Times Square, in New York City—(nautical slang) naval commanders aged between 40 and 50 who ‘roar’ commands

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‘on the pig’s back’: meaning and origin

Irish English, 1829—‘in a fortunate or prosperous state’—a loan translation from Irish ‘ar mhuin na muice’, meaning, literally, ‘on the pig’s back’, and, figuratively, ‘in a fortunate or prosperous state’

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