‘my giddy aunt!’: meaning and origin

UK, 1890—the dated jocular exclamations ‘my giddy aunt!’, ‘my sainted aunt!’, etc., express surprise, consternation, etc.—they are extended forms of the exclamation ‘my aunt!’

Read More

‘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

Read More

‘overpaid, overdressed, oversexed and over here’

Australia and U.S.A, 1944—purportedly applied by the British and the Australians to the U.S. soldiers stationed in their respective countries during World War II—British self-deprecating retort: ‘underpaid, underdressed, undersexed and under Eisenhower’

Read More

‘tickety-boo’: meaning, early occurrences and origin

UK, 1938—old-fashioned informal British-English adjective meaning ‘in good order’, ‘fine’—origin obscure: perhaps from Hindi ‘ṭhīk hai’ (‘all right’) or from ‘the ticket’ (‘the correct thing’); or it may simply be a purely fanciful formation

Read More

‘aerial ping-pong’: meaning and origin

derisive appellation given to Australian Rules (football), because the ball is often kicked high into the air, requiring players to leap and catch it—Australia, 1945—slang of the Australian armed forces during World War II

Read More

‘in clover’: meaning and origin of this phrase

UK, 1710—in ease and luxury—refers to the use of clover as fodder, as explained by Samuel Johnson in A Dictionary of the English Language (1755): “To live in Clover, is to live luxuriously; clover being extremely delicious and fattening to cattle.”

Read More

‘things are crook in Tallarook’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1941—used of any adverse situation—based on the rhyme between ‘crook’ (meaning ‘bad’, ‘unpleasant’, ‘unsatisfactory’) and ‘Tallarook’, the name of a town in Victoria—sometimes followed by ‘there’s no work in Bourke’

Read More