If you know what it means to ‘have a Barry Crocker’ or ‘do the Harold Holt’, wordsmiths at The Australian National University (ANU) want to hear from you. 

The Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) is looking for new contributions for the Australian National Dictionary, with a focus on rhyming slang.

Rhyming slang substitutes words with rhyming words, names or phrases — ‘shocker’ becomes ‘Barry Crocker’, ‘undies’ becomes ‘Reg Grundies’ and ‘goal’ becomes ‘sausage roll’.  

ANDC Senior Researcher and Editor Mark Gwynn says it likely emerged in east London toward the middle of the 1800s and found its way to Australia very 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, like ‘Dad ‘n Dave’ for shave, ‘Noah’s Ark’ for shark and ‘Merv Hughes’ for shoes,” Mr Gwynn 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, as well as alert us to new rhyming slang terms to add to our database for possible inclusion in the dictionary.” 

Chief Editor of the Australian National Dictionary, Dr Amanda Laugesen. Photo: Lannon Harley/ANU

Each year the 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. 

“Contributions from the public are a very important way of alerting us to new words, or words that may’ve been overlooked in the past,” the dictionary’s Chief Editor Dr Amanda Laugesen said. 

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

You can share your rhyming slang terms via the ANDC Word Box feature or through the ANDC contact page.

You may also like

Article Card Image

Why do we love Eurovision?

The international song contest has a devoted following in Australia, but do we really belong?

Article Card Image

Painting the universe red: meet the nuclear physicist exploring dark energy

Hunting for dark matter and abstract painting are all in a day’s work for Raghda Abdel Khaleq, a PhD researcher in nuclear physics. 

Article Card Image

Four things you should love about Star Wars this May the 4th

On Star Wars Day we take a look at some of the things that keep us coming back to one of the most famous science fiction epics of all time.

Subscribe to ANU Reporter

Anu Logo

+61 2 6125 5111

The Australian National University, Canberra

CRICOS Provider: 00120C

ABN: 52 234 063 906

EDX Logo
Group of eight Australia Logo