Australian English: eponymous words
The Australian English words recently added to OxfordDictionaries.com include a wealth of interesting words from a wide range of spheres. Among these are several that are named after people, real or hypothetical, and we have turned our attention particularly to those. While not all of these are in everyday use in Australia now, they all have their history in Australian English.
A Lady Blamey is ‘an improvised drinking glass made by slicing the top off a bottle’. The connection might not be immediately clear, but the concept is apparently named after its inventor. Lady Olga Blamey (1905-1967) was the wife of General Sir Thomas Blamey (1884–1951), commander of Allied Land Forces in the southwest Pacific during the Second World War. Lady Blamey reputedly taught the troops the method of slicing through glass with a kerosene-soaked string.
The same period also saw the advent of the Owen gun, named after its Australian inventor Evelyn Owen (1915-49); it was a sub-machine gun widely used by Australian soldiers during the Second World War.
Every year since 1959, the Australian television industry holds an awards ceremony where Logies are presented. There are categories voted for by the public and by the industry, with Logies presented to programmes and individual actors. The award itself is not named after an Australian, but rather a famous Scotsman: John Logie Baird (1888-1946), the pioneer of television.
Larry Dooley is used to mean ‘a beating’ in informal Australian English; for example, ‘I’ll come over and give you a Larry Dooley’. While the term is related to a real person, he wasn’t actually called Larry Dooley. The man in question was Larry Foley (1849-1917), a champion Australian middleweight boxer; the term is an alteration of his name. Foley is quite prolific in etymology; it has also been suggested that the phrase as happy as Larry is named after him, although less conclusively.
This term is used to denote ‘a very rich source of something, especially when elusive or mythical’; for example, ‘PC users have stumbled upon a Lasseter’s reef of communications possibilities’. Lasseter’s reef comes from the name of Lewis Herbert Lasseter (born Harold Bell Lasseter) (1880–1931), an Australian prospector who, in 1929, claimed to have discovered a huge gold-bearing reef in central Australia. This has never been found, hence the association with the elusive or mythical.
Send her down, Hughie
Hughie is the only person on this list who didn’t actually exist. Hughie is an imaginary being held to be responsible for the weather; send her down, Hughie is an exhortation to this being, requesting rain. The phrase may have developed from the similar British variant send it down, David, incorporating the common Australian English features of using her or she in place of it (also seen in she’s apples, for instance).