We compared the new words in the Australian and Oxford dictionaries, and now we don’t know if we’re Arthur or Martha

Eyes peeled for the budgie smugglers.
Eyes peeled for the budgie smugglers.
Image: Reuters/David Gray
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The Australian National Dictionary was updated for the first time in 28 years this week, immortalizing 6,000 new words and phrases. Among the entries added to the nation’s lexicon are colorful colloquialisms and idioms, regional phrases, and words derived from over 100 indigenous languages.

As it happens, in June Oxford University Press—whose Australia and New Zealand subsidiary publishes the Australian dictionary—also updated the Oxford English Dictionary, the grand old book of English letters, with more than 1,000 new entries, ranging from foreign words to acronyms and colloquialisms. We browsed through some of the new entries from both dictionaries, picked our favorites, and came to the conclusion that there’s nothing quite like an Aussie idiom.


Do a Bradbury
To become the unlikely winner. Named for Steven Bradbury, a former ice speed skater who won a gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics after his competitors crashed and fell to the ice moments before the finishing line. Bradbury, who up until that point was trailing in last place, cruised to victory.

I don’t know if I’m Arthur or Martha
To be in a state of confusion—a phrase whose origin is unclear but was first recorded in the 1940s. A comparable (but much more boring) expression in US or British English might be: to not know whether one is coming or going.

Carry on like a pork chop
To behave foolishly. The Australian National Dictionary Centre reckons this is probably a spin-off of an earlier phrase, “like a pork chop in a synagogue,” meaning unlikely or rare.

Couldn’t run a chook raffle
A chook raffle is a raffle of chickens held in Australian clubs or pubs. Someone who “couldn’t run a chook raffle” has sub-par organizational skills. The nearest British equivalent might be “couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery.”

Dry as a dead dingo’s donger
Extremely dry. A dingo is an Australian wild dog. We suspect the rest needs no explanation.

A ”fashionable young man living in a rural area.” (See lumbersexual).

One of the 500 or so indigenous words now included in the dictionary, this means “a mate, a close friend, or a kinsman” and comes “from Warlpiri and other languages of the Northern Territory and northern Queensland.”

Chardonnay socialist
Someone who espouses left-wing or socialist views but who lives an affluent lifestyle, riffing off the British English term ”champagne socialist” and alluding to Chardonnay’s popularity in Australia.

Grey nomad
The Australian National Dictionary Centre defines this as a retired person who “travels extensively within Australia, especially by campervan, caravan or motor home.”

Budgie smugglers
Not a reference to those who hoard pet parrots, but rather close-fitting male swimming trunks. It is thought that the term is “a variation of the international English grape smugglers for such a garment.” 😳


Camping—but with far more luxurious facilities than the average tent.

To be utterly defeated, particularly online (e.g. having your computer taken over by a hacker). Oxford Dictionaries says this likely comes from “a common mistyping of own as a result of the proximity of the letter P to the letter O on a keyboard.”

An abbreviation of “definitely.”

To take or steal something—for example, “his laptop was ganked.” It might come from a shortening of the altered pronunciation of “gangster,” according to Oxford Dictionaries.

Stupid o’clock
A time of the day that is absurdly early or late. “I’m on the early shift tomorrow so I have get up at stupid o’clock.”

Not to be confused with chicken parm[esan] in the US, this is a typical takeout dish originating in the north-east of England made of deep-fried breaded chicken, which is covered in béchamel sauce and cheese before being grilled.

A phrase used when explaining a (usually) three-step process that you have just completed, insinuating that it’s been done quite efficiently. “I ordered the parts, they were delivered the next day, and I fixed the computer. Bish-bash-bosh.”

Starter marriage
A short-lived union between two young adults. Essentially, a test run for the real thing.

An acronym for the British English slang term “can’t be arsed,” that is, when you don’t want to do something out of laziness.