Know what having a Barry Crocker is? The ANU wants your best rhyming slang!

4 August 2021 43
Prime Minister Scott Morrison wearing Australian flag face mask

Rhyming slang: more Australian than booing the prime minister. Photo: Facebook.

Do you know what it means to do a Harold Holt, or have a Barry Crocker?

Aussie slang may not be as prolific in Canberra as in other parts of Australia, but the wordsmiths at the Australian National University (ANU) are calling on you to come up with your best phrases for the Australian National Dictionary.

No, we’re not pulling your Mal Meninga (finger)!

For people out of the loop, rhyming slang is where normal words are substituted with rhyming words, names or phrases.

So ‘shocker’ becomes ‘Barry Crocker’, ‘undies’ becomes ‘Reg Grundies’, and ‘goal’ becomes ‘sausage roll’.

Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) senior researcher and editor Mark Gwynn says rhyming slang likely emerged in east London towards the middle of the 1800s and found its way to Australia soon afterwards.

“By the end of the 20th century, a distinct form of Australian rhyming slang had emerged, giving Cockney slang a unique Aussie twist, such as ‘Dad ‘n’ Dave’ for shave, ‘Noah’s Ark’ for shark, and ‘Merv Hughes’ for shoes,” he said.

“We know this form of slang is still used in Australia from its occurrence on internet chat sites and sports commentary in particular, but it doesn’t often appear in print.

“We hope this appeal will help us identify the extent to which it is still used, and alert us to new rhyming slang terms to add to our database for possible inclusion in the dictionary.”

Each year, ANDC runs an appeal for contributions from the public for the Australian National Dictionary to build on the publication’s collection of Australian words and their origins.

The dictionary’s chief editor, Dr Amanda Laugesen, said she is looking forward to the best words Australians can come up with as the centre continues to compile new Australianisms.

“Contributions from the public are a very important way of alerting us to new words, or words that may have been overlooked in the past,” she said.

“We look forward to seeing what we discover with this latest appeal.”

People with ideas for new slang words can contribute by tweeting @ozworders on Twitter.


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43 Responses to Know what having a Barry Crocker is? The ANU wants your best rhyming slang!
John Aust John Aust 4:23 pm 09 Aug 21

Uncle Doug….

John Aust John Aust 4:23 pm 09 Aug 21

Royce Hart…

John Aust John Aust 4:18 pm 09 Aug 21

Cows hoof…

John Aust John Aust 4:17 pm 09 Aug 21

Jatz crackers

John Aust John Aust 4:09 pm 09 Aug 21

To cop one in the orchestra stalls…

Elizabeth Ann Thurbon Elizabeth Ann Thurbon 9:16 am 09 Aug 21

Things are crook in Talarook. Means things are bad here.

Shaz Ray Shaz Ray 2:52 am 09 Aug 21

I assume that doing a Harold Holt means drowning in the surf

    Elizabeth Ann Thurbon Elizabeth Ann Thurbon 9:15 am 09 Aug 21

    Shaz Ray no it means do a Harold Holt - do a bolt.

Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 8:15 pm 08 Aug 21

wooley moofta

Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 8:15 pm 08 Aug 21

dogs eye with dead horse

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:54 pm 08 Aug 21

Rhyming slang feels very, very dated – there might have been a few examples in the Minder in Australia episodes and in that mid-century time capsule “They’re a Weird Mob” – but one particular example might be ripe for a comeback –

“…..as I was swiftly-flowing up the field of wheat in the bread-and-jam….”

which translates as “as I was going up the street in a tram”

That’s from the Bulletin of 18 January 1902 (via the mid-60s edition of Sidney J. Baker’s excellent ‘The Australian Language’).

Amanda Pickstone Amanda Pickstone 6:35 pm 08 Aug 21

Now we can add to the list 'do a ScoMo'.... to disappear when theres a crisis!

Kathy Burdett Kathy Burdett 2:32 pm 08 Aug 21

Billy lids = kids, gay & hearty = party

Malcolm Burdett Malcolm Burdett 2:05 pm 08 Aug 21

Half and Half is a bath

Pete Macca Pete Macca 11:13 am 08 Aug 21

Harold Holt, don't swim with Great White sharks as you to, might have Barry Crocker.

Barry Maher Barry Maher 7:05 am 08 Aug 21

Arthur Ash for cash

Geoffrey for a slash(Essendon slang)

Jimmy Britt

Cheese n’

Barry Maher Barry Maher 7:01 am 08 Aug 21

A Shocker!

Steve Arundel Steve Arundel 3:25 pm 07 Aug 21

What is a Barry Crocker is that these people need evidence from the internet of the prevalence of culture.

Stuart John Stuart John 2:44 pm 07 Aug 21

Vinhara Goonesekera I want you to study this before I see you next...

    Vinhara Goonesekera Vinhara Goonesekera 2:50 pm 07 Aug 21

    Stuart John nos comprendos, ne comprend pas, я не понимаю, මට තේරෙන්නේ නැහැ

    Stuart John Stuart John 3:51 pm 07 Aug 21

    Vinhara Goonesekera fair shake of the sauce bottle, don't want to carry on like a pork chop and Harold Holt on this one...

    Vinhara Goonesekera Vinhara Goonesekera 3:52 pm 07 Aug 21

    Stuart John I would laugh but I have absolutely no idea what you just said aha

MERC600 MERC600 2:38 pm 07 Aug 21

“to get the rough end of the pineapple”

Deborah Lee Deborah Lee 10:26 am 07 Aug 21

Harold Holt did the bolt

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