Oxford Dictionaries recently announced the largest ever quarterly update of Australian English on OxfordDictionaries.com, with over 500 entries added to the free online dictionary of English.
These aren’t new terms; they have been added because they represent a historical and cultural breadth of the use of English in Australia. It certainly has been an education for us here at Oxford Australia; there are words and terms included in the update that we never realised were specifically Australian!
We’ve included a selection below. How many of these did you know started in Australia?
play lunch ▶noun Austral./NZ a snack eaten by schoolchildren during their mid-morning break: she was always snatching things from him, eating half his play lunch in exchange for secrets. A mid-morning break for schoolchildren: I was put into third class and sat there till play lunch.
long service leave ▶noun [mass noun] Austral. a period of paid leave granted to an employee who has served a specified period of continuous employment: it was an opportunity to spend time as a family while her husband was on long service leave.
lolly water ▶noun [mass noun] Austral./NZ informal non-alcoholic or weak alcoholic drink: all three of them were on the lolly water—apparently they had early starts | an ice-cold, full-strength can of beer rather than some lolly water.
muck-up day ▶noun Austral. informal an end of year celebration for school students, especially those in their final year: he spent muck-up day squirting people with a water pistol. – origin 1960s: from the phrasal verb muck up in the Australian sense ‘misbehave’ (see muck).
mum and dad investor ▶noun Austral. a small-scale risk-averse shareholder, typically the average person with a mortgage and family: these companies are collapsing and thousands of mum and dad investors are in jeopardy.
pharmaceutical benefits scheme ▶noun Austral. a government scheme which provides medicines at a subsidized price: we need to put the country’s pharmaceutical benefits scheme on to a sustainable basis.
native garden ▶noun Austral. a garden consisting entirely or mostly of indigenous plants: there’s a preference for native gardens, rather than the European-style gardens of the past.
meat tray ▶noun Austral./NZ a prize in a raffle consisting of a tray of different cuts of meat: the winner receives a $50 meat tray from Prime Meats.
neenish tart /ˈniːnɪʃ tɑːt/ ▶noun Austral./NZ a small sweet pastry case filled with cream or mock cream and topped with coloured icing: Jess has a very sweet tooth and loves her neenish tarts. – origin late 19th cent.: origin unknown, but later variant spellings including nenische and neinich suggest the possibility of an origin in a European Germanic language.
*The terms included were chosen from an Australian English Dictionary, but selected by a team at Oxford University Press in the UK.