Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Am 28.08.2005 waren hier folgende Artikel mit (Australischen) Wortgeschichten zu finden:
Mosey | Intelligent design | Numbers | Mates debate | Indigenous | Slippery dip | Invac | Climate change | Congressional glossary | Welsh rarebit | Globish | Dingo | Effable | Rosiner | Repent | Brass razoo | Blooper | Tolerance | Anarthrous | How many words? | Desecrate | Cleanskin | Beak | Gift horse | Weaselling away | Word Genius | Station | Inept | | Jimjams | Oligopsony | Scunge | Debbie | Panini | Parasitic computing | Sith | Conspire | Brain language | Judicial | Noggin | Happy slapping | Ginormous | Chump change | | Asbo | Cockatoo | Cockroach problem | Sarcophagus | New American Oxford | Impactful | Doolally | Sodoku | Spelling Bee | Bibliobibuli | Dashboard drum | Clappers | Boucebackability | Tomboy | Shag | Portal | | Gleed | Rubber | Meteor | Jimjams | Happy slapping | Hob-nob | Wowser | Pam Peters | Kidnap | Monger | Teetotal | Croweater | Point blank | Toponymy | Syntax | Decisional | Loo | Magnoperate | Punch | Aussie | Powerless profanity | Scarper | Diggerspeak | Oodles | Hooroo | Teenspeak | Perverse proverbs | Kick the bucket | Arm swinger | Inveigle | Basic English | Sting | Morology | Dog-whistle politics | Wally | Ridgy-didge | Reduced media edition | Johnson's Dictionary 2 | Aristology | A word on words | New portmanteau words | Cheesed off | Backlog | Save | Gooware | Rafia | English speakers | Horizontal fiscal equalization | Qualer | unAustralian | Bible basher | Obscure phrases | Posh book | Cedar revolution | Interrogate | Morganatic | Johnson's Dictionary | Wacko Words
New Oxford words (18 July 2008) The Oxford English Dictionary has just released its latest list of new words it’s added to its definitive of what counts as English....
Nuts (17 July 2008) A listener wants to know why we call someone who is acting a bit strangely “nuts”...
Rubber (16 July 2008) With Wimbledon on at the moment a listener has asked me why a series of games (in tennis, and sometimes in other sports) is a called a “rubber”...
Pyjamas (15 July 2008) A listener asks me for the origin of the word “pyjama” - meaning, of course, sleepwear....
Pair (14 July 2008) A listener asks why we talk about “a pair of trousers” when what we’re speaking of is a single garment.
Silly Billy (11 July 2008) A listener wants to know why we call someone who’s behaving foolishly a “silly billy”...
Cheers (10 July 2008) The word “cheers” is a salutation used when you lift a glass of alcohol....
Dudgeon (9 July 2008) “Dudgeon” is a feeling of anger, resentment or offence - a feeling a person can be immersed in: so we say that someone “walked off in high dudgeon” or “…in great dudgeon”...
Daks (8 July 2008) Very often in this word hunting business all that can be found at the end of a long path of research is those frustrating words: “origin unknown.” So it’s nice, on occasions, to find a clear (and even simple) solution to an otherwise puzzling word question.
Penny (7 July 2008) My colleague Helen Thomas has asked me for the origin of the expression “a penny for your thoughts”...
Monsoon (4 July 2008) Longman’s Dictionary of Contemporary English says that the word “monsoon” has two meanings...
Wag (3 July 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the familiar idiom “a bit of a wag”...
Bully for you (2 July 2008) A listener wants to know the origin of the expression “bully for you” - especially where this word “bully” comes from when used as a word of encouragement or approval - even when we use it sarcastically, as is often the case these days.
Blue dog (1 July 2008)
Xmas (30 June 2008) A listener asks for the origin of Christmas spelled with an “X” in place of the first syllable....
Pull your horns in (27 June 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the expression “pull your horns in.” This is used to tell someone to stop being so aggressive - to stop charging like a wounded bull: “pull your horns in”...
Third degree (26 June 2008) A listener asks about the expression “the third degree”...
Raw prawn (25 June 2008)
Skylark (24 June 2008) A listener asks for the origin of “skylarking”...
Great Scott! (23 June 2008) A listener wants to know the origins of the exclamation “Great Scott!”...
Jemmy (20 June 2008) A listener asks why a burglar’s crow bar is called a “jemmy”...
Shiver me timbers (19 June 2008) A listener asks for the origin of “shiver me timbers”...
Heyday (18 June 2008) We often speak about “back on so-and-so’s heyday” meaning the time when someone was at their peak.
Flat strap (17 June 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the expression “flat strap” and “flat chat”...
Administratium (16 June 2008) New words are being coined all the time, and I found this one pinned to a notice board (in a management area).
Turn it up (30 May 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the expression “turn it up” meaning “stop it what you’re doing” or “change what you’re doing”...
Tenterhooks (30 May 2008) A listener asks me to explain the origins of the word tenterhooks...
Not on your nelly (30 May 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the expression "Not on your nelly!" - which is simply a very emphatic way of saying no...
Fair crack of the whip (30 May 2008) The expression "fair crack of the whip" means (as you know) being given a fair opportunity, or a reasonable chance...
Bottle (30 May 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the expression "lose your bottle" meaning to chicken out of something...
Talk the leg off an iron pot (30 May 2008) A listener asks me about the expression "talk the leg off an iron pot"...
Barnet fair (29 May 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the rhyming slang "Barnet Fair" - meaning "the hair"...
Them apples (28 May 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the expression "How do you like them apples?
Hogan's ghost (27 May 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the exclamation "Hogan's ghost!"..
Lamb's tail (26 May 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the expression "two shakes of a lamb's tail"...
You’re clever (23 May 2008) Tim Winton’s new novel Breath was reviewed recently in the British weekly The Spectator.
Mad snake (22 May 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the expression “as mad as a cut snake”...
Galoot (21 May 2008) The Macquarie Dictionary defines a “galoot” as “an awkward, silly person.” With most dictionaries noting that it’s often used affectionately, as in “You’re making a galoot of yourself.” And a listener asks where the word comes from...
Dog’s breakfast (20 May 2008) A listener wants to know the origin of the expression “a dog’s breakfast”...
Draft (16 May 2008) A listener asks how come the word “draft” has so many different meanings: the breeze under the door, a draught horse, the draught of a ship, drawing up plans is “drafting” and so on...
Annie’s room (15 May 2008) A listener asks for the meaning and origin of the expression “up in Annie’s room behind the clock”...
Vernacular (14 May 2008) A listener has asked for the meaning and origin of the word "vernacular"...
Bludger (13 May 2008) A listener asks for the origin of the word “bludger”...
Horse float (12 May 2008) A listener asks why horses are carried around in a horse float?
Sour Grapes (2 May 2008) A NewsRadio listener has asked me for the origin of the expression sour grapes....
Gizmo (30 April 2008) Beetle Bailey is a newspaper cartoon strip written and drawn by Mort Walker.
Love tennis (29 April 2008) In the wake of Wimbledon it's worth looking at one of the oddities of scoring in tennis.
Biofraud (28 April 2008) The word biofraud (meaning the fraudulent manipulation of data in a biological study or survey) appears to have been coined by The Economist magazine back in 1983 when it was reporting on a fraudulent claim related to synthesising certain proteins....
Caucus (25 March 2008) Part of the American presidential primary season has been the holding of “caucuses” - public meetings where citizens gather to vote for their preferred candidates...
Nerdy Geek (25 March 2008) My colleague Graham Cairns has asked me for the definitive distinction between a “nerd” and a “geek”...
Mosquito (25 March 2008) The word “mosquito” (as the name of the buzzing, irritating, blood-sucking insect) has been around since about 1583 - having come into English from the Spanish name for the same small pest...
1929 Words (25 March 2008) Words don’t exist forever - at some point they are born (and many die).
Schwarten sayings (26 February 2008) Queensland's Minister for Public Works and Housing Robert Schwarten is what is known in political circles as “a character”...
Excrementally (26 February 2008) A NewsRadio listener has a passed on to me news of a report he heard in which (as he tells it) there was a description of government spending (quote) “rising excrementally”...
Milton’s words (26 February 2008) This summer I (finally) kept a promise I made to myself some 20 years ago - to read right through John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost.”
This marathon effort on my part coincides with Milton’s 400th birthday...
Twoc (26 February 2008) There are new slang terms that keep erupting out of the criminal undercurrents of society - and the latest of these is the word “twoc”...
Read dating (26 February 2008) A movie called “The Jane Austen Book Club” was a recent example of what is said to be new trend in romance.
Obamarama (26 February 2008) My colleague Debbie Spillane has pointed out that Barak Obama’s distinctive name has spawned an entire industry in the United States - coining new words out of either his first or second names...
Twerp (26 February 2008) “Twerp” is an old slang word meaning an irritating person.
Slowflation (1 February 2008) What do you call an economy what is growing only very slowly and has rising inflation at the same time?
Nuts! (31 January 2008) Michael Quinion, on his worldwide words website, makes a habit of collecting examples of the misuse of words.
Bioneer (30 January 2008) Kerry Maxwell, that intrepid hunter out of new words, recently alerted us to the word “bioneer.”
And yes, that’s “bioneer” with a “B” for “Baker”, not “P” for “Papa”...
Schwarten sayings (29 January 2008) Queensland's Minister for Public Works and Housing Robert Schwarten is what is known in political circles as “a character.”
He is a bushie, from the Queensland outback, and has never lost the true bushie’s gift for a nice turn of phrase - even when he had to be serious for three days as Acting Premier of Queensland...
Excrementally (28 January 2008) A NewsRadio listener has a passed on to me news of a report he heard in which (as he tells it) there was a description of government spending (quote) “rising excrementally”...
Ugly parent syndrome (25 January 2008) A NewsRadio listener has drawn my attention to the expression "ugly parent syndrome"...
Black stump (24 January 2008) Somewhere over the horizon is the charcoal-black remnant of a long-dead, burned out tree.
Steganography (23 January 2008) Steganography is an old word (it goes back to the 16th century) meaning secret or hidden writing (literally “covered writing”)...
Cheesed off (22 January 2008) Feeling a little cheesed off the other day, I looked up the expression "cheesed off"....
Ridgy-didge (21 January 2008) A NewsRadio listener asks the origin of the old Aussie expression ridgy-didge meaning “all right”, “genuine”, “fair dinkum”...
Billboard (13 January 2008) Originally a bill was any written document, the word coming from the Latin name for the seal with which important documents were sealed...
Rubber (12 January 2008) With all the tennis being played at the moment, my colleague Mike Gardiner has asked me why a series of games is a called a “rubber”...
Floccinaucinihilipilification (11 January 2008) Floccinaucinihilipilification means “the action of habit of classifying something as worthless”.
How many words? (10 January 2008) A NewsRadio listener emails to ask how many words there are in the English language...
Gazette (9 January 2008) A NewsRadio listener emails to ask for the origin of the word “gazette”...
Medical slang (8 January 2008) Every trade and profession has is own slang - expressions known to insiders, not outsiders...
ABC Word of the Year (7 January 2008) This is the time of year when everyone and their uncle looks back over the past 12 months and announces their “Word of the Year”...
Verbicide (17 November 2007) Verbicide is the act of killing or mutilating the meaning of a word...
Diet words (16 November 2007) I have spoken before about William Safire’s delightful “On Language” column that appears in The New York Times.
Skid-row (14 November 2007) Someone who drinks too much and is unemployed is said to be “on skid-row” - but skid row is actually a corruption of the earlier expression “skid road”...
Coffee-spitter (13 November 2007) Journalists are fond of inventing labels for outrageous stories.
Our Accent (12 November 2007) With John Clarke having recently explored the Australian accent in an ABC-TV documentary, I have dug up a quote from Keith Hall on the subject of our accent...
Dactylology (3 November 2007) Dactylology literally means “finger speaking”.
Drive-by downloads (2 November 2007) There are countless sites on the web that offer visitors free down-loads that promise to do this or that for happy customer - play audios, scan in-coming emails, block pop-ups, hunt for spy-ware and so on....
Heads-up (31 October 2007) According to the fourth and latest edition of the Macquarie Dictionary “heads-up” is a colloquial expression meaning “a quick way of issuing advance notice”....
New York second (30 October 2007) Recently on WordWatch I spoke about a “New York minute” - meaning a very short period of time indeed, a mere instant, a moment that flashes by (a reference to the supposedly frenzied pace of life in New York City)...
New York minute (29 October 2007) A few years ago a movie came out called New York Minute which thus raised the question of just what a New York minute is...
Bludger (27 October 2007) Bludger began life as London criminal slang for a prostitute’s pimp.
Vegemite (26 October 2007) Vegemite is a salty spread that’s both a national institution and a registered brand name...
Two up (25 October 2007) Two up is a national institution based on the tossing of two coins.
Squiz (24 October 2007) This time we take a squiz at squiz - meaning “a look or a glance”.
Chunder (23 October 2007) Chunder means, of course, “vomit”.
Two pot screamer (22 October 2007) This is someone who can’t hold their alcohol, and gets drunk easily (on two pots, or glasses, of beer)...
Bespoke (20 October 2007) This is now a word that has fallen almost completely out of use.
Quagmire (19 October 2007) “A piece of boggy ground whose surface yields under the tread,” is (according to The Macquarie ABC Dictionary) a quagmire.
Pontificate (18 October 2007) When a leading politician in the current federal election campaign was accused of pontificating I decided to look up the origin of that word...
Cold shoulder (17 October 2007) “Did you talk to him about it?
Kookaburra (16 October 2007) When I saw a large kookaburra sitting in a lordly fashion on our clothesline the other day - fearless watching (in a lordly fashion) as I hung out the towels - I wondered about his name...
Shout (15 October 2007) Shouting for drinks is a bit of slang that was coined in Australia - and first recorded here in 1850...
Grey nomad (13 October 2007) This month’s “word of the month” from the Oxford Dictionary mob is the expression “grey nomad"...
Smiley (12 October 2007) This year marks the 25th anniversary of the invention the famous “smiley” symbol - which can be made on a keyboard using a colon, a dash, and a bracket...
Locavore (11 October 2007) You know a carnivore eats meat, a herbivore eats grasses, while an omnivore will eat anything within reach (within reason).
Going like the clappers (10 October 2007) Recently Michael Quinion, on his Word Wide Words website, has been discussing the expression “going like the clappers” with other contributors to the site...
Ecosexual (9 October 2007) According to the Macmillan Dictionary website a new word - “ecosexual” - has now replaced the boring old “metrosexual” as a trendy term...
Serendipity (8 October 2007) The “Dot Wordsworth” column in The Spectator recently claimed that whenever a poll of favourite words in the English language is conducted, the word “serendipity always scores well...
French cricket (6 October 2007) A NewsRadio listener has asked for the origins of the expressions “French cricket” and “French cut”....
Uno (5 October 2007) A NewsRadio listener wants to know why so many Australians punctuation their conversation with the pointless expression “you know”....
Stotting (4 October 2007) Have you ever watched those wild life docos on television where you see the movement of animals in beautifully photographed slow motion?
Sledging (3 October 2007) In the light of the recent Twenty Twenty Cricket World Cup we should say a word about the word “sledging” - meaning close-in fieldsmen attempting to upset a batsman’s concentration with a steady flow of abuse and invective....
Globesity (2 October 2007) The World Health Organisation talks about the “global fat epidemic” and has coined a word to describe it: “globesity”...
Philadelphia lawyer (1 October 2007) Aussies are familiar with the expression “bush lawyer.”
Anyone who throws around a lot free advice is often called “a bit of bush lawyer” - especially if, despite lack of legal training, he can come up with arguments that baffle and frustrate the boss cockies.
VBIED (28 September 2007) This is the 2000th episode of WordWatch and I thought I’d mark it by reporting on a word the captures something of the 21st century.
Kleptocrat (27 September 2007) Recently a report in London’s Guardian newspaper from its Nairobi correspondent referred to the former Kenyan leader Daniel Arap Moi as “one of the great kleptocrats of Africa.”
Now, I hadn’t come across this term “kleptocrat” before - but it rather neatly captures what at least some rulers have done to some of the countries they have ruled: namely - they have stolen from them...
Optics -- the rest of the story (25 September 2007) Recently I reported on this newish expression “politics optics” - meaning “the way it looks” - as in (for example) “the optics of the last few days have not been good for the Prime Minister.”
Now the authoritative word on this use of “optics” has come from AM’s senior political correspondent Chris Uhlmann...
Snows (21 September 2007) My good friend Dr Karl Kruszelnicki has been at it again - writing about words and language: this time exploding the myth that Eskimos have 100, or 200, or even 400 different words for “snow.”
Gild the lily (20 September 2007) We’re all familiar with the expression “to gild the lily” meaning “to unnecessarily adorn something already beautiful” or “to pile on more than is needed.”
In fact, familiar though it is, this expression is (in fact) a misquotation from Shakespeare....
Bunkum (19 September 2007) The word “bunkum” is a familiar enough - we use it to mean “nonsense, claptrap, humbug.”
But a colleague of mine has asked where it comes from, and it turns out to have a story behind it....
Optics (18 September 2007) Recently I heard a political reporter use the expression “the optics of the last few days” and was pulled up in my tracks.
Whipper snapper (17 September 2007) My colleague Caro Meldrum was recently called a “whipper snapper” by someone she was dealing with - and she asked me for the origin of the expression....
Emails (13 September 2007)
Bariatrics (12 September 2007) We keep hearing about the obesity epidemic.
Yoofspeak (11 September 2007) Kate Reeves - appearing on ABC local radio in Sydney - recently revealed some of the latest words to appear in that confusing and mysterious jargon called “youthspeak”...
Apples (8 September 2007) This bit of Aussie English, “she’ll be apples” or “she’s apples”, is used to indicate general approbation - it’s saying that something is all right, or in good order...
Tombstoning (6 September 2007) Extreme sports might be described as those entertaining new ways people have found to kill or injure themselves.
Food miles (5 September 2007) A relatively new expression that the environmental movement has given us is the term “food miles”...
Stadiums (4 September 2007) Today we call a large sporting arena a “stadium”...
Gentleman (3 September 2007) Well, the hoo haa now seems to have died down over Kevin Rudd having a drink in a New York strip club called “Scores.”
And in the calm after the storm we can reflect on the language issue this raises...
Balderdash (1 September 2007) Nowadays we used balderdash to mean “a senseless jumble of words.”
However, there is a much older meaning from which it derives...
Climate canary (31 August 2007) A “climate canary” is some smallish change in the natural environment that warns of bigger, and worse, change to come...
Wedge politics (30 August 2007) The expression “wedge politics” is frequently heard these days - but what, exactly, does it mean?
Single whammy (29 August 2007) My colleague Michael Troy has drawn my attention to the word “whammy” - his point being that when something hits us in a two or three ways it gets called a “double whammy” or (even worse) a “triple whammy.”
But, asks Michael, is there any such thing as a “single whammy”?
Culture (28 August 2007) Jenny Tabakoff recently wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald about the changing nature of the word “culture"...
Fair dinkum (27 August 2007)
Argy-bargy (25 August 2007) Why is a vigorous argument called an argy-bargy?
Book words (24 August 2007) Indefatigable word watcher Chris Pash (of Factiva Insight) has been researching the words used by book reviewers in our major newspapers...
Irritainment (23 August 2007) Britain’s Observer newspaper recently published a list of newish jargon (or slang) words used to describe different types of television programming.
Fulsome (22 August 2007) My colleague Graham Cairns has drawn my attention to those who use the expression “fulsome praise” thinking that they mean “generous praise”...
Statusphere (21 August 2007) Recently I received an email from a NewsRadio listener, Rod, who claimed to have coined a brand new word...
Spoof (20 August 2007) My colleague Anna Hipsley has asked me about the origin of the word “spoof”...
Bowser (17 August 2007) Why do we call petrol pumps “bowsers”?
Burglarize (16 August 2007) Recently “Dot Wordsworth” in the Spectator drew our attention to an odd American word: “burglarize”...
Burl (15 August 2007) I’ve have been asked about the origin of the Aussie word “burl”....
On the blink (14 August 2007) My colleague Russell Powell (a source of so many good ideas for Word Watches) has asked me why we say “on the blink” about something that’s broken....
Worcestershire sauce (13 August 2007) My colleague Anna Hipsley has asked for the origin of the expression - and the product - known as Worcestershire sauce....
Pog (10 August 2007) Recently I answered question from a listener who emailed: “Many years ago a war movie made me wonder about the word ‘pogue.’ The context in which it was used was one soldier verbally abusing another”...
In the van (9 August 2007) My colleague John Cleary has drawn my attention to an expression much loved by certain football commentators - namely, “in the van”...
Proctologist (8 August 2007) American sit-coms have made us familiar with the word “proctologist” - a joke word that seems guaranteed to get a laugh from American audiences...
Horripilate (7 August 2007) Here’s a sentence that appeared in The New Yorker recently: “We seek portents and meanings, and we horripilate at the uncanny…” Hang on - what was that word?
Tosh (6 August 2007) My colleague Anna Hipsley asked me for the origin of the word “tosh” meaning “nonsense, rubbish, twaddle, or trash”...
Huey (3 August 2007) Warwick emails to say: “As a surfer we often talk of "Huey" as the god of waves.
Floordrobe (2 August 2007) For a long time now we have needed a word that would describe a teenager’s bedroom - and now, it appears, that word has been coined.
Digerati (1 August 2007) The word “literati” was coined back 1621 as a label for scholarly or literary people (it comes from the same Latin source word that gives us “literature” and “literate.”) Then in 1956 Time Magazine turned “literati” into “glitterati” as a collective label for writers, artists and performers who are celebrities.
Slow travel (31 July 2007) First there was fast food, and then the Italians invented something they called “slow food” - meaning food that took time to prepare and time to enjoy.
Wend (30 July 2007) My colleague Russell Powell asked me about the old word “wend” - as in “wending my way back home”...
Hot fix (27 July 2007) Kerry Maxwell - that diligent searcher-out of new words - has drawn my attention to the expression “hot fix”... Disemvowel (26 July 2007) Disemvowel” is a new coinage that’s just made it into the pages of the dictionary, and which has its own entry on Wikipedia... Read more»
Highway / Freeway (28 June 2006) A young listener asks for the difference between "highway" and "freeway" - and the origin of the two words.
Auctoritas (28 June 2006) A NewsRadio listener emails: 'Was I dreaming: when I heard a Fairfax journalist talking about John Howard's "auctoritas"?
Beg the question (28 June 2006) A listener emails to ask about the correct use of the expression "begging the question".
Falling off the wagon (28 June 2006) A listener emails to ask about the expression "falling off the wagon" - originally (she says) it applied to people drinking, but now seems to apply to smoking as well...
Rodeo (28 June 2006) When I was ABC on local radio recently I had a question from a caller about the various pronunciations of the word "rodeo" - is it "road-ay-oh" or "road-ee-oh".
Freegan (23 June 2006) First we had "vegetarians" - people who don't want to eat anything that had a mother, which means no meat or fish.
Transformational diplomacy (23 June 2006) In the bad old days of colonialism there was something called "gunboat diplomacy".
Gelatology (23 June 2006) According to Michael Quinion - on his World Wide Words website - a new word has been coined to describe the study of laughter: "gelantology"....
Nana (23 June 2006) On the subject of bits of vanishing Aussie slang: how long is it since you heard someone talk about their "nana" - meaning their head?
Blind Freddy (23 June 2006) I've been asked to explain the origin of "Blind Freddy" - as in the expression: "even Blind Freddy could see that." Officially, no one knows.
Ringxiety (16 June 2006) Here's a brand new word that I'm not sure we really needed.
Codology (16 June 2006) The world is full of various "-ologies"… probably far more than we really need, and all of them filling universities with professors.
Buzzing bees (16 June 2006) Shaun emails to ask if there's a connection between "buzzwords" and "spelling bees".
Lieutenant (16 June 2006) Graham emails to ask me about the correct pronunciation of a particular military rank.
Talent (16 June 2006) Nick emails to ask for the origin of the word talent.
AD/CE (8 June 2006) A listener wants to know why ancient dates (from the last 2,000 years) are now sometimes followed by the letters CE instead of the letters AD as used to be the case.
Should / could / would (8 June 2006) Jordan has email asking me to explain the correct usages of should, could and would.
Obi-Wan (8 June 2006) Years ago they were called "typing errors" or "typos" for short.
Foot in mouth (2006) (1 June 2006) The UK's Plain English campaign recently announced this year's winner of the Foot in mouth award - intended to commemorate a truly baffling comment.
Octothorpe (1 June 2006) On every computer keyboard, and every phone keypad, is a symbol that consists of two pairs of crossed lines - one pair being vertical and the other horizontal.
Vegemite moment (1 June 2006) Vegemite - that thick, salty, black sandwich spread invented by food technologist Dr Cyril P Calister in 1922 - is a genuine Aussie icon.
Advance Australia (1 June 2006) We're familiar with the expression Advance Australia as it appears in our national anthem - but in the current issue of Ozwords Fred Ludowyk writes that those words have served as an emblem and a motto for Australia since the 1830s.
Big ask (1 June 2006) A "big ask" is "an expectation which it would be extremely difficult to meet" (Macquarie Dictionary).
E-thrombosis (26 May 2006) Michael Quinion has recently alerted us to the danger of E-thrombosis.
Debutant(e) (26 May 2006) A NewsRadio listener complains about the use of the word debutant to describe a sportsman - and says debutant means a young girl.
Expat (26 May 2006) A NewsRadio listener has emailed to complain about the use of expat to describe Australians living and working overseas.
Issues (26 May 2006) The world of words is just as wracked by fads and fashions as any other human activity.
Up to snuff (26 May 2006) John asks for the origin of the paired expressions up to snuff (meaning "good enough") and its opposite not up to snuff (meaning, obviously, "not good enough").
Hoon (again) (16 May 2006) The Macquarie Dictionary defines a hoon as "a foolish or silly person, especially one who is a show-off".
Mythical towns (16 May 2006) Part of what Russell Ward called "the Australian legend" has always been those mythical outback towns - places you won't find on any map, but which symbolise the remoteness of life in the bush.
Lexus liberal (16 May 2006) The Word Spy website recently noted two terms (increasingly popular in the US) which record some sort of "politics with a twist".
Hamburger (16 May 2006) "Why," a listener asks, "is a hamburger called a hamburger since it contains beef not ham?
Media clichés (16 May 2006) In a recent media column in The Australian Mark Day reported on some research done by Chris Pash at the Dow-Jones-Reuters' company Factiva.
New boomerangs (12 May 2006) We all know what a boomerang is.
Miracle (12 May 2006) The newspapers kept calling the survival of Brant Webb and Todd Russell "The Beaconsfield Miracle".
Decider (12 May 2006) When President George Bush was defending Donald Rumsfeld he said that ultimately he, as President, was the decision maker.
Tautophrase (12 May 2006) Recently in The New York Times William Safire coined the expression tautophrase.
Purview (1 May 2006) Dianne emails to say: Over the past week, I've heard "It's not in my purview" on different ABC programs.
Pork chop (1 May 2006) A listener emails to ask: Where does the term "acting like a pork chop" come from?
Slops (1 May 2006) Geoff emails to ask: What is the origin of the English naval term slops used in historical literature from the 19th century - apparently meaning clothing and related essentials issued to sailors.
Wooden leg (1 May 2006) Jack emails to say: My mother, born around 1900, often used the phrase "Too late she cried and waved her wooden leg." Do you have any idea where this came from?
The last word on the last bit (1 May 2006) Suggestions are still coming in from NewsRadio listeners proposing a name for that last bit of food you leave on your plate to show that (a) you are polite, and (b) you are not greedy.
Youse (26 April 2006) There's been wailing in the letters columns of the press recently over the lack of a plural form of the second person pronoun: in English "you" has to serve as both singular and plural.
Manscaping (26 April 2006) Until now the removal of body hair has been an entirely female preoccupation.
Like disliked (26 April 2006) The British weekly The Spectator reports on a dispute surrounding Professor Michael McCarthy, co-author of the new Cambridge Grammar of English.
War talk (26 April 2006) Here are four different verbal labels that have been given to the war in Iraq.
Denture venture (26 April 2006) As the baby boomers age they seem determined grow old disgracefully.
Email rules (20 April 2006) A NewsRadio listener asks for my advice and suggestions on how to make one's emails communicate better.
Kerfuffle (20 April 2006) I'd always thought of kerfuffle as a very English word.
Vendetta (20 April 2006) The release of the movie V for Vendetta (starring Hugo Weaving) has triggered a request for the story behind the word vendetta.
Ice baby (20 April 2006) In the latest newsletter from the Macmillan English Dictionaries the focus is on the expression ice baby.
Apatheism (20 April 2006) The word "theism" is first recorded in English in 1678.
Hoon (11 April 2006) Chris emails that when driving English visitors around Melbourne he saw some P-platers driving stupidly and said: "Look at those hoons." His English friends were baffled having never heard the word hoon before.
Myomancy (11 April 2006) Peter has written to ask about two very odd words he found on his daily "calendar of facts".
Last bit - the sequel (11 April 2006) Recently I discussed a question a had listener raised - namely: that last bit of food you leave on your plate to show that (a) you are polite, and (b) you are not greedy: what is it called?
Evangelical (11 April 2006) Lindsay has emailed to raise the word evangelical.
CPA (6 April 2006) Computers - and the way we use them - continue to be one of the major sources of new words and phrases in the English language.
Rock star (6 April 2006) I recently reported on the apparent replacement of "icon" by "talisman" is the preferred cliché.
Blister (6 April 2006) "Bludger" is an old Aussie word meaning "a person who is lazy and evades their responsibilities." The story is that "bludger" is ...
Unsiloing (6 April 2006) A silo is a place for storing grain.
Done and dusted (31 March 2006) Tom emails to ask about the expression done and dusted.
Last bit (31 March 2006) When I was doing a talkback program on ABC radio a caller asked me what the correct word is for that last bit of food you leave on your plate - you know what she means: that last little bit of food you leave on the plate to show that (a) you are polite, and (b) you are not greedy.
Nimfism (31 March 2006) In every developed nation the cholesterol of cars the clogs the traffic arteries is an increasing problem.
Furore (31 March 2006) A NewsRadio listener asks if the correct pronunciation of the word "furore" is FYOOHRAW or FYOOH'RAWREE.
Stress (31 March 2006) A recent book called The Truth About Stress suggests that the counselling "culture" that has produced the whole "stress industry" is hurting us - because it encourages us to see ourselves as damaged or ill when we're not.
Mad as a hatter (31 March 2006) Fred emails asking me to say something about the expression mad as a hatter.
Program (31 March 2006) Jeremy emails to ask about the correct spelling of the word program.
Comeuppance (31 March 2006) Ian emails to ask about the expression comeuppance.
Talisman (31 March 2006) In a burst of prophecy my colleague Shon Walker predicted the eclipse of "icon" and "iconic" as trendy words and the rise of talisman and talismanic as the new clichés.
Donk (31 March 2006) Does anyone still use the old Australian expression donk to mean an engine anymore?
G'day (22 March 2006) The classic Aussie greeting of g'day (the one every visiting American expects to hear us say) is, as you might guess, an Aussie variation on an ancient English greeting.
Geosequestration (22 March 2006) It was a climate conference that made us all familiar with the awkward word geosequestration.
Unawares (22 March 2006) A colleague has asked why we say that someone is "caught unawares" - why, she asks, do we use the plural?
Quote envy (22 March 2006) There is something that happens to me from time to time - I come across a very clever expression and mutter myself: "wish I'd thought of that".
ACS (22 March 2006) We're all familiar with the sort of euphemism that substitutes a posh sounding expression for an ordinary one.
Clean your clock (22 March 2006) Recently William Safire, writing in the New York Times, drew my attention to an American slang term I hadn't encountered before: clean your clock.
Truthiness (22 March 2006) Ever since the American Dialect Society chose truthiness as its Word of the Year I have been mulling over the word - and the choice.
Stoush (14 March 2006) There was a time when "stoush" (meaning "fight") was a very common piece of Aussie slang.
Lemony (14 March 2006) I wonder if the word lemony is still used by anyone?
Kiwi (14 March 2006) We're familiar with the use of the word Kiwi to mean a New Zealander, but in the First World War the diggers would call a soldier who was very smartly dressed, in very precise uniform, and with all his leatherwork highly polished a Kiwi.
Moscow (14 March 2006) Today Moscow is the capital of Russia - and nothing else.
Fairy (14 March 2006) Back in the colonial era the settlers of this continent had some odd ways of expressing themselves.
Flannelled Fools (9 March 2006) A NewsRadio listener wants to know where the idea of referring to cricketers as flannelled fools came from?
Meta (9 March 2006) Every so often a prefix - a verbal tool attached to the front of a word - becomes detached and takes on a life as a word on its own.
Ping (9 March 2006) A NewsRadio listener asks me for the meanings and origins of the word ping.
Cockamamie (9 March 2006) Cockamamie is one of the distinctively American slang terms we would be unlikely to use in Australia.
Limbo (9 March 2006) When something or someone is in limbo they are in a state of uncertainty - neither here nor there.
Mixology (9 March 2006) Englishman Michael Quinion writes what I think is the best website on words you'll ever come across.
Australasia (9 March 2006) When I was a schoolboy I was taught that the word Australasia meant "Australia and New Zealand".
Endemic (9 March 2006) I came across a comment in a newspaper to the effect that the word endemic has been the most widely misused word of the part 12 months.
Fossick (9 March 2006) I was watching an episode of The Antiques Roadshow shot in Australia.
Brickbat (9 March 2006) A complaint is often referred to, metaphorically, as a brickbat - and a NewsRadio listener asks for my views on the origin and use of the word.
Fat finger error (20 January 2006) It is something that has happened to all of us at some time or another - there we are typing merrily away at our keyboard when something untoward happens.
Japanese borrowings (20 January 2006) English is notorious for borrowing words from other languages - from every other language it ever comes into contact with.
Saturnalia (20 January 2006) A NewsRadio listener emails to say that he read in a newspaper a rave party being called a Saturnalia and wants to know the meaning and history of the word.
Gunk (20 January 2006) Gunk is one of those lovely words that seems to convey so much in one dripping, greasy syllable.
Loved ones (20 January 2006) Recently the ABC's language watchdog is called SCOSE - the Standing Committee on Spoken English.
Exiled English (20 January 2006) Sir James Murray (who lived from 1837 to 1915) was the dean of English lexicographers.
Resolve (20 January 2006) A NewsRadio listener wants to know why when we resolve we fix or settle our minds on something by a deliberate choice; we determine on something.
Zip (20 January 2006) The word zip appears to be first recorded from 1852 as a word that imitates a sound.
Holidays (20 January 2006) Why do we use the word holidays in the plural?
Trojan duck (20 January 2006) Collins Dictionary has issued its list of words that defined 2005 - including the expression Trojan duck.
Jumping Jehoshaphat! (20 January 2006)
Sodoku widow (20 January 2006) Collins Dictionary has issued its list of words that defined 2005 - and the list includes the expression Sodoku widow.
Goose (20 January 2006) Why do we call someone a goose if they do something stupid?
Sunny Jim (20 January 2006) I have been asked to find out where we get the expression Sunny Jim from.
Summer game (20 January 2006) A NewsRadio listener asks how long cricket has been known as the summer game.
Quick and the dead (20 January 2006) A NewsRadio listener has come across a very rather dated expression the quick and the dead and wants to know what it means and where it comes from.
Fused words (20 January 2006) A company called Tegic Communications (possibly originally called "Strategic Communications" - until they became trendy by dropping the first syllable) provides an electronic dictionary for handheld devices.
Gopher (20 January 2006) There is, it seems, a large family bearing the name gopher - and the family is getting bigger all the time.
Infosnacking (20 January 2006) You've probably already heard that the editors of the Webster's College Dictionary (in the United States) have chosen the word infosnacking as their word of the year.
Cash on the nail (20 January 2006) Michael Quinion (on his website) recently demolished a familiar language myth.
Emotive V emotional (20 January 2006) A NewsRadio listener emails to ask the difference between: emotive and emotional.
Offlish (20 January 2006) When Don Watson puts his knife into "weasel words" he's mainly taking aim at the language of management, of bureaucrats and of politicians.
Ostensible (20 January 2006) A NewsRadio listener has asked me to say something about the origin and meaning of the word ostensible.
Parliamentary language (20 January 2006) A NewsRadio listener has emailed to quote the following phrase he heard during a parliamentary broadcast.
Long tail effect (20 January 2006) One impact of computers and online retailing is something called the long tail effect.
Rain rage (20 January 2006) First we had plain old-fashioned rage meaning "intense anger" or "fury".
Apologist (29 December 2005) A NewsRadio listener has emailed to ask about the word apologist.
Peter Principle (29 December 2005) Last week on WordWatch I explained "Parkinson's Law" and, in consequence, I've now been asked to explain the Peter Principle.
Whitelist (29 December 2005) William Safire recently reported that the latest word to escape from the geek world into the world where the rest of us live is: whitelist.
Sniglet (29 December 2005) Ruth Wajnryb says that roughly 50 new words are coined each day in the English language.
Wardrobe (19 December 2005) With the first movie in the Narnia series - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - currently screening I thought I'd take a look at the word wardrobe - an old word that came into English from Old French in the 14th century.
Parkinson's Law (19 December 2005) A NewsRadio listener emails to say that in his office someone recently referred to something called Parkinson's Law.
Brace (19 December 2005) A NewsRadio listener asks why in some sports (such as cricket and soccer) a score of two is called a brace.
Comestibles (19 December 2005) A NewsRadio listener wants to know why the foods we eat are called comestibles.
Leatherjacket (14 December 2005) I've just stumbled across the wide range of meanings given to them term leatherjacket - some are obvious, others rather less so.
Stentorian (14 December 2005) A NewsRadio listener emails to say he recently heard his voice described as stentorian - and was this a compliment?
Long arm of the law (14 December 2005) A NewsRadio listener asks for the origin of the expression the long arm of the law - meaning (of course) that you can't escape the reach of the law.
Silicon (14 December 2005) Our civilisation seems to be built these days on a foundation of silicon.
You goose! (14 December 2005) I've mentioned before on WordWatch the little book called The Meaning of Tingo.
Amnicolist (9 December 2005) Here's our "Weird Word of the Week": amnicolist.
Cold turkey (9 December 2005) A NewsRadio listener asks why when someone goes off drugs other medical assistance they are said to go cold turkey.
Talking points (9 December 2005) Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly starts his program each day with what he calls his "Talking Points Memo".
Foo-fighters (9 December 2005) A recent report of a supposed UFO sighting reminded me of the older name for UFOs.
Wiki wiki (3 December 2005) A NewsRadio listener has asked me how the famous website Wikipedia came to be named.
Sedition (3 December 2005) This seems like a good time to take a look at the meaning of the word sedition.
Brang (3 December 2005) Is brang a real word?
Regift (3 December 2005) As Christmas draws closer it is perhaps timely to remind you of the verb "to regift".
Pandemic (21 November 2005) The latest report on "Words in the News" from the Websters dictionary people focuses on words like: "outbreak", "epidemic" and pandemic.
Spitting chips (21 November 2005) A NewsRadio listener has emailed to ask me for the origin of the expression spitting chips - meaning "angry".
Idioms (21 November 2005) It's notoriously difficult to translate from one language to another - especially hard to translate are the idioms of a language.
Bush week (21 November 2005) A NewsRadio listener emails to ask for the origins of bush week.
Dark tourism (17 November 2005) Recently I was talking to Sue Butler, of the Macquarie Dictionary, about the expression "event tourism" - that's tourism built around an event such as next year's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Wristband generation (17 November 2005) Every generation seems these days to get its own label - and here's a new one on me: the wristband generation.
Swivel chair network (17 November 2005) The world of computer technology has contributed - and continues to contribute - so many new terms to the English language that I couldn't possibly report them all.
Rule the roost (17 November 2005) The expression to rule the roost is one that we're all familiar with.
Swagger (17 November 2005) Writing in the New York Times William Safire recently drew attention to the word swagger.
Howard's words (11 November 2005) The latest edition of the Macquarie Dictionary includes the expression "barbecue stopper" with the definition: "a topic of conversation or issue for discussion which is of general concern, especially one of political significance".
Dodgy Brothers (11 November 2005) The Dodgy Brothers have made it into the dictionary.
Heads-up (11 November 2005) According to the fourth and latest edition of the Macquarie Dictionary "heads-up" is a colloquial expression meaning "a quick way of issuing advance notice".
How do you do? (11 November 2005) A NewsRadio listener has asked me why we use the phrase How do you do?
Simply smart (11 November 2005) According to the Plain English Foundation a new study from Princeton University shows that writers who use long words needlessly are seen as less intelligent than those who stick with a basic vocabulary.
Rap (4 November 2005) The word rap first appears in English in 14th century meaning: "A blow or stroke, especially one inflicted on a person".
Crony (4 November 2005) Spurred on by media references to President George Bush being heavily influenced by his cronies William Safire (in The New York Times) took a look at this word crony which means: "a close friend or associate" - or, as we would say in Australia: "a mate".
Nick (4 November 2005) A NewsRadio listener wants to know why jail is called the nick.
Real estate refugees (4 November 2005) Here's a newish expression that appears to have been coined in California: real estate refugees.
Flabbergasted (4 November 2005) A NewsRadio listener has asked for the origin of the expression flabbergasted meaning "overcome with surprise and bewilderment".
Anticronym (29 October 2005) Steven emails to say he suggested a new word to the Macquarie Dictionary and wants to know if it got in to the new fourth edition.
Bullet-point society (29 October 2005) My colleague Mike Gardiner recently drew my attention to the expression bullet-point society.
Sockeye salmon (29 October 2005) For years I have been seeing the name on tins of salmon, and only now have I discovered where it comes from.
Buggerlugs (29 October 2005) I'm still getting emails about buggerlugs - sparked off by the Speaker of the Northern Territory parliament ruling that buggerlugs was "unparliamentary language".
Furphy (29 October 2005) I've spoken before on WordWatch about furphy - the Australia word for a false or unreliable rumour.
American (18 October 2005) A NewsRadio listener emails to ask why do Americans call themselves Americans?
Terrific terror (18 October 2005) A NewsRadio listener emails to ask for the connection (if any) between the words terrific (which we use in a positive way) and terrorism (which we do not).
Tiddly wikki (18 October 2005) Wikkipedia is a famous website that works in an unusual way: it's designed so that those who visit the site can make contributions to, edit, or correct entries.
Ham (18 October 2005) Why, a NewsRadio listener asks, is a bad actor called a ham?
Macquarie launch (18 October 2005) As you've heard on NewsRadio the latest edition - the fourth - of the Macquarie Dictionary has been launched.
Hammer and tongs (12 October 2005) A NewsRadio listener wants to know the origin of the expression hammer and tongs.
Guys (12 October 2005) We've all noticed the word guys being used to mean any bunch of people - regardless of gender.
Promatorium (12 October 2005) In his latest World Wide Words newsletter Michael Quinion alerts us to a weird new word: promatorium.
Echidna (12 October 2005) A NewsRadio listener emails to ask why in the parts of Australia in which he grew up (in Queensland and New South Wales) echidnas are commonly referred to as "porcupines".
Quid (4 October 2005) A NewsRadio listener asks why - back in the old money - one pound was called a quid.
Bar (4 October 2005) A NewsRadio listener asks why the place where you go for a cooling ale on a hot day is a called a bar.
Grumpy (4 October 2005) Word of Mouth is a weekly program on BBC Radio 4 conducted by author and broadcaster Michael Rosen.
Umpa-lumpa (27 September 2005) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the new Tim Burton / Johnny Depp film of Roald Dahl's classic children's story - features those chocolate making midgets the umpa-lumpas.
Floccinaucinihilipilification (27 September 2005) Floccinaucinihilipilification means "the action or habit of classifying something as worthless".
Fake word (27 September 2005) The publishers of dictionaries have a unique way of stopping plagiarists and protecting their copyright: they insert into their dictionaries a fake word - something they've just made up (complete with a fake definition).
Ick factor (27 September 2005) William Safire, in The New York Times, recently reported on the rise of the expression "the ick factor".
Kookaburra (27 September 2005) When I saw a large kookaburra sitting in a lordly fashion on our clothesline the other day - fearless watching (in a lordly fashion) as I hung out the towels - I wondered about his name.
Moment in time (27 September 2005) A NewsRadio listener has emailed to complain about the expression at this moment in time.
Bid farewell (27 September 2005) A NewsRadio listener emails to say that she has a friend is always using the expression bid farewell - as "We now bid farewell to…etc." (whoever or whatever they're leaving).
BOGSAT (27 September 2005) My colleague Debbie Spillane has drawn my attention to decision making method with a distinctive name.
Stinking bishop (27 September 2005) My fellow Wallace and Gromit fans will know that the inventor and his intelligent dog are both very fond of cheese - with Wensleydale and Stilton being often mentioned.
Eavesdropping (16 September 2005) A NewsRadio listener asks for the origins of the expression eavesdropping - meaning "secretly listening to another's conversation".
Duck shoving (16 September 2005) A NewsRadio listener wants to know the origins of the expression duckshoving.
New Orleans (16 September 2005) One of the interesting things to come out of Hurricane Katrina is the three pronunciations of New Orleans.
De-watered incertitude (16 September 2005) At the height of the flooding in New Orleans America's Secretary for Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, spoke about a time when New Orleans would be de-watered.
Fulsome (16 September 2005) A NewsRadio listener emails to complain about those politicians who use the expression "fulsome praise" thinking that they mean "generous praise".
Pear shaped (16 September 2005) A NewsRadio listener emails to ask for the origin of pear shaped.
Hike (16 September 2005) A NewsRadio listener has emailed to complain about the use of the hike to describe increases in interest rates.
Troubleshoot (16 September 2005) A NewsRadio listener (who is an IT troubleshooter) asks for the origin of the expression troubleshoot.
Post-traumatic job switcher (29 August 2005) We've all heard of PTS - post-traumatic stress - defined as: "a mental disorder occurring after a traumatic event which is outside an individual's normal experience, characterised by such symptoms as withdrawal, depression, and an inclination to relive the experience." This is sometimes called PTSD - post-traumatic stress disorder.
Cubular (29 August 2005) The Urban Dictionary is a website that collects, and publishes, the latest bits of slang.
Erotoxins (29 August 2005) When scientists can't agree on a new word - or on the scientific phenomenon the new word claims to name - life gets interesting for us word watchers.
Muffin-top (29 August 2005) As the warmer weather comes upon us we shall see them all around us: bare midriffs - anything from three to six inches (or whatever that is in the new money) bulging out between a short blouse and hip-clinging, low-rise jeans.
Bimonthly (29 August 2005) A NewsRadio listener wants to know if the word bimonthly means "twice-a-month" or "once-every-two-months".
Numbers (23 August 2005) When you have to write a number in a sentence do you use figures or words?
Intelligent design (23 August 2005) Intelligent Design has become a much disputed label in the United States.
Mosey (23 August 2005) A NewsRadio listener asks about the word mosey.
Indigenous (23 August 2005) Does being born in Australia make you indigenous?
Mates debate (23 August 2005) Now the so-called "mates debate" in the Federal Parliament House is over I will have the last word on the subject.
Invac (19 August 2005) In case of fire you may well be ordered to evacuate your building.
Congressional glossary (19 August 2005) If, like me, you find American politics a very entertaining show - then here's something that will help if you find some of the language baffling.
Slippery dip (19 August 2005) This is an expression of Australian origin - and you'll find it in the Macquarie, Australian edition of the Collins and the Australian Oxford.
Welsh rarebit (19 August 2005) A NewsRadio listener wants to know why grilled cheese on toast is called Welsh rarebit.
Climate change (19 August 2005) "Global warming" is slowly being replaced by the cooler, more scientific term "climate change".
Repent (15 August 2005) "The Unfolding of Language" is a new book by Guy Deutscher - an expert in Semitic languages at the University of Leiden in Holland.
Tolerance (15 August 2005) The meaning of the word tolerance is changing - and changing for the worse.
Effable (15 August 2005) There are a number of (apparent) missing positives in the English languages.
Anarthrous (15 August 2005) I don't know if you are a fan of the Dilbert comic strip.
Desecrate (15 August 2005) A proposed amendment to the US constitution is slowly wending its way through the amendment process.
Brass razoo (15 August 2005) When we're out of cash, why we say we haven't got a brass razoo?
Blooper (15 August 2005) A blooper is a mistake, a blunder, a gaffe, a fluff, a howler, a verbal stuff-up of some sort.
Cleanskin (15 August 2005) Perhaps you are familiar with the word cleanskin - but I have just discovered this bit of Australian slang with an interesting history.
Globish (15 August 2005) From time to time someone tries to invent a simple and regular (artificial) language everyone in the world can easily use.
Rosiner (15 August 2005) David Lord used the word rosiner in a recent sports report and a listener has asked me what the word means.
Dingo (15 August 2005) The leader of the Queensland Liberal Party, Bob Quin, recently criticised the Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie - ending his criticism with a challenge: "Don't dingo out any longer" he said.
How many words? (15 August 2005) A NewsRadio listener asks how many words there are in the English language.
Debbie (10 August 2005) According to netlingo-dot-com a debbie is someone who's even worse than a newbie.
Oligopsony (10 August 2005) There it was, on the back page of the Fin Review-in Chanticleer's column - a word I'd never come across before: oligopsony.
Station (10 August 2005) In Australia, tracts of land suitable for growing crops are called farms while tracts of land suitable for grazing animals are called stations.
Cockatoo (10 August 2005) The word cockatoo refers to those gregarious Australian parrots that gather in large flocks and make their presence felt with their loud, screeching cries.
Beak (10 August 2005) Nineteenth century Aussie books often refer to a magistrate or judge as a beak.
Noggin (10 August 2005) Aussies will sometimes call your head, your noggin.
Chump change (10 August 2005) In a recent edition of his wonderful "On Language" column for The New York Times William Safire draws our attention to chum change.
Sith (10 August 2005) Finally I got around to seeing the last of the Star Wars movies: Revenge of the Sith - in which Anakin Skywalker becomes a dark lord of the "Sith".
Scunge (10 August 2005) Recently on NewsRadio a coach said that his team needed to "scunge a few more wins".
Asbo (10 August 2005) The Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner recently accused Britain of suffering asbomania - and he labelled it the asbo-nation.
Panini (10 August 2005) What should the English language do with foreign words?
Jimjams (10 August 2005) A NewsRadio listener emails to ask for the origin and meaning of jimjams.
Word Genius (10 August 2005) If you are a mad wordie (like me!) then you may want to hear about a new electronic dictionary called: the Macquarie Dictionary Word Genius.
Happy slapping (10 August 2005) Michael Quinion, of the World Wide Words website, reports an ugly new behaviour in the UK - with an ugly new term to label it: happy slapping.
Weaselling away (10 August 2005) Following the success of Weasel Words Don Watson now has a Weasel Words website to record the latest language abuses.
Conspire (10 August 2005) Conspire is a word that has a hidden metaphor built into it.
Brain language (10 August 2005) Language learning is a skill that begins early in childhood, but continues to be refined through adolescence.
Judicial (10 August 2005) According to a new entry at Urban Dictionary-dot-com the word judicial has just taken on a trendy new meaning.
Parasitic computing (10 August 2005) Is your computer under your control at all times?
Crusade (10 August 2005) After 86 years old Billy Graham conducted his crusade in New York - under the glare of media attention - I decided to tackle this word crusade.
Gift horse (10 August 2005) After a meeting with the federal government one state premier was heard to remark: "Well, you can't look a gift horse in the mouth".
Bibliobibuli (12 July 2005) Have you ever tried to attract the attention of someone who is wrapped up in a good book?
Clappers (12 July 2005) To "go like the clappers" is to go very fast.
Impactful (12 July 2005) A NewsRadio listener has emailed asking me to expose an ugly new word.
Gleed (12 July 2005) A gleed is something bright and burning.
Boucebackability (12 July 2005) I've spoken once before about the word bouncebackability on WordWatch.
Shag (12 July 2005) What's in a name?
Sodoku (12 July 2005) A NewsRadio listener wants me to explain the origin of the word sodoku - the number puzzles that have sprung up in our newspapers recently.
Rubber (12 July 2005) A listener asks why a "heat" or a "leg" in tennis (and some other sports) is called a rubber.
New American Oxford (12 July 2005) The New American Oxford dictionary has just appeared in the US.
Tomboy (12 July 2005) When a friend's small daughter was described as a tomboy I decided to look up the origin of the term tomboy and made a startling discovery.
Spelling Bee (12 July 2005) Why is a spelling bee called a spelling bee?
Doolally (12 July 2005) A listener who grew up in New Zealand emailed about the word doolally (meaning mad or eccentric, as in "he's gone a bit doolally").
Sarcophagus (12 July 2005) A NewsRadio listener has asked for the origin of the word sarcophagus.
Portal (12 July 2005) When an old word becomes a buzzword it takes on a new vigour and a new life (like an old man with a young second wife).
Meteor (12 July 2005) Nowadays we think of a meteor as a lump of rock that hurtles through space, streaks through the night sky, and thumps into remote part of Western Australia.
Dashboard drum (12 July 2005) Are you listening in your car right now?
Jimjams (11 July 2005) A NewsRadio listener emails to ask for the origin and meaning of jimjams.
Happy slapping (11 July 2005) Michael Quinion, of the World Wide Words website, reports an ugly new behaviour in the UK - with an ugly new term to label it: happy slapping.