Word watch: Ten pound Poms

Australian National Dictionary editor AMANDA LAUGESEN tackles ten pound Poms and Jennings Germans.

Australian English has long reflected the varied migration that has come with the European colonisation of Australia.

Two such terms that reflect the nature of migration to Australia in the middle of the 20th century are ten pound Pom and Jennings German.

Both terms have been used retrospectively to refer to people who migrated under particular migration schemes.

The term ten pound Pom, (also ten pound migrant, ten quid migrant, and ten pound tourist), is first recorded in the 1970s.

It refers to those people from the UK who migrated to Australia under the Assisted Passage Scheme, a scheme run by the Australian Government after the Second World War.

The fare for passage to Australia was set at £10. It was expected that these assisted migrants would work for a period of time.

The use of the term Pom (and Pommy) for a British person was a well-established term in Australian English.

It is first recorded in 1912, and while many etymologies have been suggested (the most well-known being that it came from P.O.M.E., an acronym for 'prisoner of Mother England' and referred to convicts), it actually evolved from a rhyming slang term for immigrant, pomegranate (sometimes also spelt pommygrant).

An earlier rhyming slang term for an immigrant, jimmygrant, co-existed with pomegranate/pommygrant in the early 20th century, but over time jimmygrant was overtaken by pomegranate and its abbreviated forms pommy and pom.