‘Malley’s cow’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1951—used of someone who has departed and left no indication of their present whereabouts—purportedly from the story of one Malley, who was told by his boss to hold a cow; on the boss’s return, the cow had disappeared, and Malley said “She’s a goner!”

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‘(as) fit as a mallee bull’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1960—very fit and well, in robust health—the image is of a bull strengthened by his living in one of the semi-desert areas of Australia in which the principal vegetation is mallee, i.e., low-growing bushy eucalyptus

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‘pester power’: meaning and origin

USA, 1979—the children’s ability to pressurise their parents into buying something, or doing something for them, by continuing to ask for it until their parents agree to do it—originally referred to television advertising targeting children

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‘like a Bondi tram’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1940—means ‘speedily’—refers to the tram service between Sydney, New South Wales, and Bondi Beach, a popular beach located 4 miles east of Sydney city centre

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‘Fiji uncle’: meaning and early occurrences

Australia, 1888—defined by Wilkes in A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms (1990) as “An imaginary rich uncle overseas, backing some venture in which the unwary may be persuaded to invest.”

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