Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Aussie slang

Following on from the post about disappearing Aussie slang, Byter Nadia asked for an item on the origin of the expression “better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick”, meaning better than nothing.

My researches have not established anything definitive about its origin.

The earliest recorded use of an equivalent expression is from 1786, “better than a thump on the back with a stone”.

There are variations to the above “burnt stick” expression, which is generally accepted to be Australian in origin:

- better than a smack in the eye

- better than a kick in the ass with a frozen foot (Canadian)

- better than a kick up the arse (or in the pants) (British)

- better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish (British)

- better than sleeping with a dead policeman (British)

Nadia’s other request, the origin of the expression “telling porkies”, meaning telling lies, is a lot easier. Its origin is Cockney rhyming slang, “pork pies” meaning “lies”, reduced later to “porkies”.

That expression was used a lot in headlines when, in June 2010, Primo, Australia’s largest producer of smallgoods was hit with a fine of $237,575 plus $200,000 in costs for mislabelling Danish and Canadian bacon products as Australian. The Daily Telegraph declared that Primo had told porkies about bacon.

1 comment:

  1. Also in Britain there's "better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick" which is probably where the Australian one comes from.


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