Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sorry, I misspoke

A Dictionary of Euphemism and other deceptive language

A couple  (term) Normally means two things. When referring to beer however, it can often mean twenty four or even thirty, i.e. “I’ll bring over a couple of beers”. Here the speaker is generally talking about a carton or slab (24 cans) or a block (30 cans) of beer.
* I only had a couple

Acquaintance  (noun) Someone you hate but you're not related to.

Adept (adjective) Thoroughly proficient. In a curriculum vitae however, it can mean ‘I saw it done once’.

Agnostic  (noun) Confused atheist.

Air support (noun) A blow up mattress? No, in fact it means ‘bombing’ with explosives that destroy buildings and kill humans and other animals.

Anarchy (noun) Lawlessness, or the philosophy of less reliance on government. Also a state a politician describes when they no longer have dictatorial control. i.e. “We’ll end up with anarchy”.

Appropriate (verb and adjective) In its verb form this can mean ‘to make one’s own’ from the Latin appropriare. It can also be a cover word for stealing, particularly in the world of arts journalism and academia i.e. ‘I saw the way so-and-so used a particular technique and decided to appropriate it’. Actually they stole it.

Are you chasing? (term) Euphemism used by drug sellers – as a way of asking if another person is looking to buy. Could be very confusing if you’re walking down a street in Australia or London, unaware that it’s a known drug beat, and your name is Jason. (Say it again with either of those accents).

Argy-bargy (noun) Noisy quarrelling. When used by a diplomat or politician however, it can refer to any disagreement no matter how serious in an attempt to reduce its importance. * A politician walks away from a scene of utter devastation saying, “Just a bit of argy bargy”

Ass. (noun) Donkey or fool. In the U.S. however, slang for bottom or bum. References to anything anal are taboo in North America. The word ‘shit’ is beeped out more than any other word. ‘Ass’ is creeping into the language of young Australians, to the point where we may no longer have arses or bums. Should we care about this?

Assets  (noun pl). Useful possessions of person or company. To some Western Military spokesmen however, another name for weapons. Can also mean women’s breasts, specifically big ones.

Assimilate (verb) To become like; to be absorbed into a system. To many Australians however, to lose all original culture, hide everything related to one’s faith, and stay away from the other neighbours unless you take off the evil head dress.  

Atheist. (noun) Confused agnostic.

At the end of the day (phrase) “When all angles and aspects of this argument are considered…”, or “When one takes into consideration the unfortunate realities of this”. A cute and brief way of saying one may need to compromise, and perhaps even cancel, a progressive and inventive programme, idea or policy. Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, had his own version of this: “In respect of the political reality” which was often preceded by his famous “ahhhhh…” This ‘political reality’ was most often a reference to either the ALP numbers game or the fact that the electorate simply wouldn’t vote for something that may cause short term cost even though it may have long term gain.

Attrition. (Noun) Friction, abrasion, gradual exhaustion (as in a war of attrition). Used by the U.S. military however, it refers to death and slaughter that isn’t over fast enough for them. Many Western journalists refer to the war in Afghanistan as a war of attrition, particularly now that it’s still going after nine years.  In the nineties some US military spokespeople attempted, at times, to use ‘attrition’ as a verb (I kid you not) i.e. “We have attritted. We have been attritting. * You dirty rat, you attritted my brother.”

Augment. (Verb) To increase or add to. In a funding application though, to transform into the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen in your life!

“A whole of government” (term) This became very popular in the nineties when people considered a problem to be possibly spread over more than one government department, but soon came to be written and uttered by so many socio-political apparatchiks to the point of becoming meaningless. Barry Jones wrote in The Age 2012. “Coupled with the managerial dogma was the reluctance of senior officials to give what used to be called ''frank and fearless'' advice - and replacing it with what is now called ''a whole of government'' approach. This is not telling ministers what they want to hear - it is actually far worse, a pernicious form of spin doctoring.” 

Babe. (Noun) Young woman with whom an American or Australian man wants to copulate. Also a term of endearment between lovers or partners, all too often thrown in to ameliorate possible anger. i.e. “Babe, I can’t afford the diamond one, but how about this one honey..”

Bargain. (Noun and verb) Agreement on value of purchase. To haggle or dispute. Also to go to a third world country and play with the life of a poor person. To act like an imperious tosser.

Barbaric. (Adjective) Foreign, vulgar and unsophisticated. Can also mean someone who does horrible and vulgar things in a manner that doesn’t quite suit the user’s way of being horrible and vulgar.

Barking mad (adjective) This is a tautology mostly committed by politicians in an attempt to belittle their opponents. In this context, the word ‘barking’ itself means mad.

Bathroom (noun) Small room to bathe or wash in. Also means a ‘toilet’ to many North Americans (and Australians unfortunately). Can be confusing for some people whose houses (quite sensibly) have separate bathrooms and toilets.

Battler, (noun, chiefly Australian). Normally a person who is poor but is trying to get richer. Between 1996 and 2005 however, the word battler described any person who voted for John Howard or Pauline Hanson. In effect the term was used to romanticise poverty by giving the poor a badge of honour, albeit a very bigoted one. The term was briefly used (and sensibly discarded) by Tony Abbott in the 2010 Australian federal election.

Bee’s dick (term, Australian slang) Very close: “So how close was it?” “Bee’s dick.”

Border Protection (term) The process of making sure unwanted people are not able to enter a country in order to inflict harm. In the mouths of conservative Australian politicians however, it refers to asylum seekers and other people attempting to escape situations of harm and repression in old leaky boats and carrying no weapons, as though the arrival of these people is somehow a danger to us.

Black arm band (term) A way of describing Australian historical analysis that disagreed with that of the far Right wing apologists associated with the Howard Government and its cronies. This quickly worn-out term attempted to compare compassionate pro-aboriginal historians with the likes of followers of Mussolini and Stalin.

Black Sites (noun pl) Secret prisons outside the United States Of America in which prisoners are held for the purposes of torture. In a 2007 article in the New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer wrote about the continuation of these prisons through executive order: “…the agency (CIA) can once again hold foreign terror suspects indefinitely, and without charges, in black sites, without notifying their families or local authorities, or offering access to legal counsel.”

Blow job (term) Oral sex as performed on a man. While this is not deceptive (we all know what it means and it’s covering up nothing) it’s actually wrong as a description of the act. Does anyone ever attempt to blow while doing this? It could be very disappointing if taken literally.

Brazilian (noun) Person from Brazil. Also a term describing a vagina and crotch which has been shaved completely, i.e. no sign of hair. Presumably this term came about as a micro parallel to the denuding of the rainforests in Brazil. Other terms describing vaginal foliage are ‘landing strip’ which describes a small vertical strip of clipped hair. In truth a landing strip would actually be the obverse, i.e. a small vertical strip of shaved area amidst a forest of hair. What is known as a landing strip would be better described as a Hitler moustache, but that’s not likely to take off (so to speak). See Map of Tasmania

Budgie smugglers. (Noun, chiefly Australian). Nylon bathers that show a clear outline of a man’s genitals, i.e. like a bag with small birds in it. Australian Liberal politician, Tony Abbott, is renowned for parading in them, but only in the days when he was up against the sartorially conservative and dowdy Kevin Rudd. They quickly disappeared when his opponent was a woman.

Buns in the oven (term, Australian and British slang) pregnant.

Bureau Of State Research (name) The name given to the secret police during the reign of General Idi Amin who took power of Uganda by military coup in 1971 and created one of the most notoriously savage and economically ineffective dictatorships in the history of Africa.

“Can I help you?” (phrase) On rare occasions a genuine attempt to come to another’s aid. In the mouths of snooty shop keepers, security guards and neurotic people however, a polite way of saying ‘What the are you doing here!’

Carpet Bombing (term) Getting rid of fleas? No, it means the bombing, in pattern formation, of large areas of land without missing any bits.

Chew the crutch out of a low-flying duck (Term, Australian slang, as in “I could…’). It means one is hungry. This is an example of reverse euphemism, in that it creates a parallel phrase to describe a feeling (hunger) but the phrase is far more expressive and lurid than the original word.

“Chuck it down” (phrase, Australian) Drink (as in a can of beer). Could lead to an embarrassing situation if taken literally. Same for similar terms such as “Get it into you” or “Throw it back”.

Clearly (adverb) A word used by an arguer (generally middle class and educated) to say “The statement I’m about to make is irrefutable”. Used often by Aus politician Gareth Evans and ABC commentator Geraldine Doogue before they made statements that were anything but clear. Longer and far more poetic forms of this were used by Aus PM Bob Hawke, who often preceded a statement with “Anyone with half a brain…” or “You don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar to realise…” thus reminding the world that Bob was indeed a Rhodes Scholar.

Clients (noun) What Australian Immigration officials sometimes call the imprisoned refugees in their care.

Coffee (noun) Drink made from coffee beans. Also a euphemism for sex. i.e. “Do you want to come in for a coffee?” Australian comedian Peter Fox used this in a routine: “I’ve been having trouble with Freudian slips. I met this beautiful girl in a night club. She drove me back to my place and I said to her ‘Do you want to come in for a cup of Fuck?’ ”

Collateral damage, (noun) Dead or injured civilians who neither voted for nor wanted the war that killed or maimed them.

Compromised (verb and adjective) Conceded for the purpose of mutual agreement. Often used by people who don’t like someone or disagree with their politics but don’t want to admit that. They’ll say something like, “I felt compromised in your presence” when what they meant was “I just don’t like you or your ideas, and don’t want to be around you.” The term is also used by people who end up working for an organisation that does things they don’t like; once again they say they feel compromised (i.e. torn between the need for money and their own ethical standards) when really they’re just cowardly.

Contingent (adjective and noun) Of uncertain occurrence; incidental. Also a body or group in an army. Used too often as an alternative to the word ‘dependant’, particularly by diplomats and politicians who don’t want to admit to the negative attributes of dependence.

Conversation (noun) The process of people communicating verbally. Used by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard however, as a replacement for the term ‘negotiation’. ‘Conversation’ sounds far less confrontational and avoids any association with her Unionist past. Used also by opposition leader Tony Abbot in 2011 after the Queensland floods. What Tony meant by ‘conversation’ was the electorate listening to him as he berated the government for the flood tax.

Community television station. (noun) Vehicle for unwanted, left-over film and TV productions, opinion articles by people who have no influence elsewhere, and sports shows starring unemployed TV hacks. Given the ratings of Community Television Stations throughout the western world, one can only wonder if the name is a misnomer.

Compartmentalised (verb) Normally refers to the process of putting things in compartments or small units. When used by the CIA and other intelligence services however, it’s another word for ‘hidden’. * Has anyone seen my keys, I think they’ve been compartmentalised?

Contractor, (noun) Normally one who undertakes a contract, i.e. builder, carpenter, plumber. In the case of war and prison security however, a bumbling idiotic mercenary who needs the money badly.

Counterfactuals (noun pl) Lies. This horrid euphemism for ‘lies’ is what some writers and critics end up using for fear of being sued by powerful writers and politicians who can afford better lawyers. (British writer Niall Fergusen being the latest angry man to threaten a suit against Indian based writer Pankaj Mishra, who accused Ferguson of seeking  “to mitigate the crimes of his beloved western empires – what he calls 'ugly methods of expropriation and enslavement' – by also implicating 'non-western' empires in them..”)

Debarking (noun) The process of removing the vocal chords of an animal, in particular dogs, because the owner didn’t consider the animal they bought might have some natural tendencies, like barking, bighting and fucking, that were once vital to its  survival.

Department Of Public Safety (Noun) This is the term invented during the French revolution (1789 to 1794) to oversee security, including the guillotining of over
30, 000 people. This ostentatious idea was reflected in the 1971 – 79 reign of terror in Uganda under Idi Amin when he created a torture squad called the Public Safety Unit or PSU. When any government says it’s doing something for the good of the public, beware!

Develop stakeholder engagement strategy (phrase – from a strategic plan published by a Western Australian QANGO called Perth Theatre Trust in 2009). This is a small example of just how hideous corporate and quasi-government language can get. There is just so much of this gibberish if one goes looking. What does this particular phrase mean? ‘Get more clients, and get more money from them’, but of course the clients must never hear that kind of honesty.

Detention Centre (Noun) Prison. This term was used (and still is) by the Australian Government as a way of describing the imprisonment of refugees. While the refugees might not have been charged with any offence under Australian law, they are certainly treated as if they have.

Doggy Doo Doo Bag (noun) A bizarre and child-like way of describing a bag for collecting dog shit.

‘Don’t go there’ (Phrase) Once a sensible warning for someone heading into a dangerous area, but nowadays a term used by many people, in particular commercial Media spokespeople, when someone is about to explore a subject redolent with taboo imagery or ideas, like snot, faeces, sex or childbirth etc. This list is as endless as the phobias held by any one member of the listening public. Strangely murder, violence and rape are fine places to go; in 2011 Australian radio personality Kyle Sandilands, in an on air interview, blithely asked a young girl "Right ... is that the only experience you've had?" after she had just revealed she’d been raped as a twelve year old.

‘Don’t mean to be personal…’ (phrase) An attempt to soften the blow before making a nasty or condescending remark about another’s person.

Downsize (verb) to reduce the size of a workforce. To sack people. The term has run its course due to misuse in the seventies and eighties, and also because it was almost laughed out of common parlance by people who knew better.

Downstairs: (term, chiefly Aus) Anything to do with the penis or testicles. Also known as ‘the downstairs department’ i.e. “He’s pretty well built in the downstairs department”.

Dynamic - adjective. Potent and forceful. When used to describe one’s partner, it can often end up like this:
She: What do you mean I’m dynamic?
He: Well, you’re beautiful, smart and…dynamic.
She: So? Dynamic? You like the way I move?
He: Umm, no it’s more…
She: I’m like a dynamo? I’m electric?
He: Well, you sure electrify me
She: Hmnnn..really?
He: Yes (to himself – Phew)

Economic (adjective) Relating to economics or the distribution of money and resources. It can also be another word for stingy.   

Empower (verb) Authorize, enable. When used by the alternative left: to give a feeling of freedom to the disenfranchised (when in truth they’ll be as socially and economically hobbled as they always have been, but now they have a government funded programme that will somehow “empower” them). Often used as a kind of mantra with the word ‘community’.

Energy. (Noun) Force, vigour, capacity for work.  Also used to describe a range of amorphous things that may or may not be real, but if you concentrate hard enough, wear the right clothes and light the right scented candles, it will come pouring out of you and into another like-minded being or some sucker who believes in your healing powers.

Enhance, (verb) Heighten or intensify. Used by a politician or bureaucrat however, it means, “to do a lot of stuff that can’t be described right now because it hasn’t been properly figured out.”  Enhanced is a cover word for boobs that have been made bigger or rounder. In the sixties and seventies they used to be called ‘falsies’, a far better describer.

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. (term) This is a description of what may or may not be torture. Ex CIA operatives and English and American politicians used this term to describe such things as waterboarding which was later described by British writer Christopher Hitchens as ‘definitely torture’ after Hitchens agreed to undergo water boarding.

Ensure (verb) To make something happen. Well, not really. This is an example of a non verb, i.e. a verb that has no real description of an action. It can be found in millions of company statements and government reports. It’s a neat way of avoiding actually doing anything.

Ethnic cleansing (term) A Carlton supporter having a wash? No it actually means genocide. Its origin is uncertain, but it was used in the early 1990s by Serbian military and political spokespeople to describe the killing of Muslim and pro-Muslims living in areas either in or bordering on Serbia. It was unfortunately also used by journalists and politicians who too often forgot to place it in inverted commas.

Expectant (adjective) In a state of expectation. Pregnant. Also a term used by U.S. military to describe someone they expect will die soon from battle injuries.

Extraordinary Rendition – noun. A great musical performance? No, in truth it’s an alarmingly inventive term that means to move a person suspected by the U.S. military of terrorist activities to a country - like Egypt - that used to allow torture.

Feisty  (adjective) Normally means 'strong of spirit' but often used as a cover word to describe a psychotic person. i.e. "My name’s Karen. I'm a Taurus, a vegetarian and I have a feisty personality". Avoid relationships with any people who describe themselves thus.

Few missing sheep in the top paddock (phrase – Australian) insane or dumb.

Game-changer (term, chiefly North American but adopted by Australian journalists) Something innovative, iconoclastic, outstanding or effective in its ability to challenge perceptions of a given construct or situation. Some journalists and military pundits have used the term to describe significant changes in the war in Afghanistan, once again adding to a creepy perception that modern war can be seen as a game.

Going forward (phrase) A trendy and sporty way of saying ‘in the future’. It sounds a lot better than “in the future” which implies the speaker has some idea of what’s likely to happen, and might possibly be questioned about it. Howard Government minister, Helen Coonan, often said, “Going forward into the future”, thus giving credence to the theories of Steven Hawking et al that time may possibly go in direction other than forward. At the time, she was Minister for Communications, so she probably felt a need to be clear and specific. Australian PM, Julia Gillard, used the term ‘Moving forward’ as a campaign slogan in the 2010 federal election. She was lambasted by the Press and opposition for using the term about 25 times in one speech, as if repeating a campaign slogan is somehow a sin. Those critics must hate song lyrics.

Going through a change. (term) Menopausal. Used in an old joke about a woman who goes to the doctor and says that each day when she urinates all that comes out are 20 cents, then on other days 50 cents etc. The doctor then says, “It’s OK you’re just going through your change.”

Golden age (noun, chiefly U.S.) Very, very old. Just about dead, but still able to reflect on the great things in life, such as being young.

‘Gone South’ (term). Went in a southerly direction. Also means drooped, as in muscles or breasts. Can also be a euphemism for oral sex.

Good question” Phrase. A patronising way of saying “I have no idea” or “this could really damage my career if I answered it honestly” in answer to a person’s question.

Handful - noun. Troublesome person. Also a student (often active and intelligent) whom a bad teacher would like to torture slowly.

Have it off. (Phrase. Chiefly British and Australian) Fornicate or fuck...

Help (noun and verb) Aid, or to be of assistance. In some Western countries (and pre 1990s South Africa) it was (and strangely still is) a polite way of describing a servant. i.e.
Woman 1: How will you organise this on your own?
Woman 2: It’s OK, we have help.

Hide the pork sword (phrase – English and Aus slang) Fornicate.

Hit (verb or noun) In its noun form it has two meanings: a murder, particularly one organised by criminals, including members of the U.S. military; and an injection of heroin.

Horizontal dancing. Term. (Australian) Fornication.

Horse (noun) Heroin. Also known as ‘H’ in the same way a joint is known as a ‘J’.

Human Resources or HR. (noun) A department or section of a company dedicated to dealings with the workforce. In many cases, a highly paid individual or group (often trained in psychology) employed to alleviate the stress of industrial negotiation, sacking or bullying.

Illegal immigrant (term) Any person arriving in a country with no valid visa and with no intention of leaving. The term is in fact a misnomer when used to describe an asylum seeker arriving via the ocean, as according to the Laws Of The Sea, it is legal to seek sanctuary or refuge in any country on earth.

“I’m not a racist, but…” (Phrase. Chiefly Australian) An attempt to soften the listener before expressing a series of specious and hateful views about people who come from a different country, race or religion.

Incentivise. (verb) Urge, provoke or motivate. To create a desire to improve. When used by a politician however, it is a cute and trendy word for “force”.

Innovative (adjective) Creating novelty or change. In an Arts application however, amazing, iconoclastic, mind-bogglingly inventive, will have them all so flabbergasted they’ll say it’s brilliant just in case they look stupid.

Interdiction (noun) The process of putting someone out of action. (Literally, to bury language) Used by U.S. Generals in the first Gulf War as another term for ‘killing’ or ‘wounding’. i.e.
Journalist: “So tell me General, what will you do when you cross the Iraqi border?”
General: “First there are a number of enemy soldiers who we will need to interdict.”  Would make a great alternative to a Roberta Flack song title, Interdicting me softly.

Internment Camp (noun) Prison. See Relocation Centres. During WWII in Australia, any people of Japanese, German or Italian origin were placed in Internment camps until the war was over.

Irony. (n) The process of stating an attitude by pretending to have the opposite attitude. Also often used by arty leftists as an excuse for pretention. i.e. “Yes, OK, we put in a 10 minute speech about post-modernism that no-one understood, but we were being ironic.” Or:
Man 1: “Why did you bash me over the head with that cricket bat?”
Man 2: “I didn’t mean to. I was being ironic.”
Man 1: “Oh, well that’s OK then. My pain was ironic too.”

Issues (noun pl) Subjects of discussion regarding polity. Also offspring or publications. Can be used as another word for problems or points of severe disagreement, i.e. “Avoid that particular subject because Trevor has issues with it”.

Jest. (verb) To joke or jibe. Can also be used as a “nice” way of covering up an insult. i.e. “It’s OK, I know I called you ignorant imbecile, but it was done in jest.”

Kidnap (verb) To take a person against their will either as hostage or simply for another unlawful purpose. i.e. an angry parent taking their children after losing a custody battle. In 2006 however, the term was used by the Israeli military when Hezbollah fighters “kidnapped” two Israeli soldiers on the border of Lebanon and Israel. The correct term, as pointed out by commentators all over the world, should have been ‘captured’.

Kevin Sheedy (term – Australian rhyming slang) sick or seedy (after the greatest football coach of all time – Kevin Sheedy)

KFC (name) Once Kentucky Fried Chicken and still stands for that, but by turning it into an acronym the term ‘fried’ kind of disappears thus allowing the consumer to avoid thinking about the deleterious effects of deep frying at high temperatures.

Kill box (term) A special zone in which U.S. pilots are free to attack and kill targets as they see fit. While it at least contains the word ‘kill’ it sounds like a video game, a la X Box.

Killing The Goose (term, Australian, as in ‘…that laid the golden egg’). This abbreviated term became common amongst Australia businessmen in 2009-10, in particularly high flying executives who considered Union action – strikes and pay claims – as being far more destructive to vulnerable and large companies (Qantas and Resources companies) than the gigantic salary increases of the top executives.
* Airplane with Goose on the tail rather than kangaroo.

Larger Than Life (term) A way of describing a funny and outspoken character. Also a convenient means of describing rich loonies without insulting them and thus losing their massive donations from your political party. In 2012 mining magnate Clive Palmer was described by Coalition leader Tony Abbott as ‘larger than life’ when Palmer attempted to suggest the Australian Greens Party was funded by the CIA.

Lay off (term) Normally means a short period of unemployment, but used by certain bosses in Australia however, it becomes a cover word for sacking. i.e. “We’ll have to lay off a few blokes.” Some employees prefer the term ‘laid off’ to being sacked because it implies economic misfortune as opposed to incompetence.

Let you go (Term, as in “We’re going to…) Sack or fire from position of employment. Can also be used on a personal level when one person wants to terminate a telephone conversation but doesn’t want to admit it, e.g. I’ll let you go then, thus implying that the other person is the one who wants to stop talking.

Life Insurance (term) In truth it’s insurance against death, but ‘Death Insurance’ is simply not that easy to sell. * I just wondered if you’d like to buy some insurance against my friend here.

Map of Tasmania (term, chiefly Australian). Woman’s pubic hair. Came into popular use after Dame Edna Everage used it in her variety show. Could possibly be a test for anyone working in an Australian tourist bureau when a foreign tourist innocently asks for the real thing.( i.e. I was hoping to see your…)  See Brazilian.

Massage Parlour (noun) A place to do massage. Really it’s a cover word for a brothel. In order to differentiate themselves from brothels and prostitutes the masseurs who actually do massage call themselves Massage Therapists.

Misspeak (verb) Speak badly or incorrectly. Really, to lie. The word was used by Richard Blumenthal, who attempted to run for the U.S. senate in 2010 and was found to have lied about serving in the Vietnam War. He also claimed he’d captained the Harvard swimming team when he wasn’t even on the team! He later said in his defence, “I have simply misspoken”.

Missing a few sheep in the top paddock. (term Australian) Dumb or insane.

Mortality Experience (term) Death. This delightfully creative euphemism was first used by someone associated with U.S. scientific studies into military experimentation, in particular the effects of Agent Orange on soldiers and civilians. It is used to this day in a number of military, scientific and insurance reports all over the western world.

Move on - phrase. Normally means to go further down the street, but also used as cover term for “go away”, i.e. “He’s been on the committee for ten years and it’s time for him to move on” (“and never come back!”).

Muff-muncher (Noun. English and Australian slang) Lesbian. This term must have been invented by a male who knew nothing about oral sex, i.e. that munching (chewing) might possibly be enjoyable to the woman being ‘munched’ on.

Narcissistic - an adjective currently used to describe anyone better-looking than oneself. (Gore Vidal)

Narrative (noun) Story or story line. In 2009 it became a trendy way of describing the missing hearts of the major Australian political parties (Labor and Liberal) instead of simply referring to the simple fact that neither of them really stood for anything.

Newstart (proper noun) Replacement name for the dole, thought up no doubt by a committee of spin doctors in the Australian Department of Social Security (Now Centrelink!) who figured that ‘dole’ was too clear and not vague or futuristic enough. One can only wonder if the committee considered the ironic similarity between ‘Newstart’ and Newspeak, the invented language in George Orwell’s satirical novel

Non-operative Personnel (term U.S.) Sounds like lazy or even sleeping workers, but no, it refers to dead soldiers. In the U.S. media website Softpedia, it is written: Surprisingly enough, none of the relatives of those killed in Iraq or Afghanistan have protested against this euphemism.

Not a problem. Term. (chiefly Australian) “You’re welcome” or “that’s fine”. The equivalent of the Italian “Prego” (I prey…) as an answer to “Grazie” (Thank you).  It can also be used by wait staff and shop attendants as an answer to just about anything. For example, if you’re just about to pay an exorbitant amount for two coffees and a cake in some pretentious restaurant, and you ask if it’s OK to pay with your credit card, the wait person or owner might say “Not a problem” as if on certain occasions it might be a problem or you might even be interrupting their day… “but that’s OK, I’ll do it anyway”.

No Wuckers (term, Australian slang) An abbreviation of ‘No fucking worries’ (Same meaning as Not a problem). This is a wonderful example of Australians’ ability to abbreviate and twist language. Australian comedian, John Conway, refers to the Australian tendency to abbreviate as ‘Brevos’

Obligated (adjective) To be under moral or ethical pressure to do something. Whatever happened to the much simpler and prettier obliged?

Ocean glimpses (Noun pl) A term used by real estate agents to describe a residence that may or may not be close to the sea, but if you stand on the toilet seat with your head out the window – with a friend hanging on to your leg should you lose grip – you might on a clear day see the sea.

Off (preposition and adjective) Not on or rotten. It can also be a verb, as in ‘to off him’ meaning to murder.

Operational pause (term, U.S.) A surgeon taking a breather? No, it’s a military word that actually refers to a group of soldiers who aren’t losing but they may as well be because the enemy has them pinned to one spot.

Organic (adjective) Occurring naturally as a constituent of organisms. i.e. not synthesized by human science. The word has become a cover word for anything that has been made without poison or additives (an important distinction regarding human health); but in some cases it describes any substance created without human interference. In that instance, all forms of cooking would fail the ‘organic’ test. 
*Person 1) Is this spaghetti organic?  Person 2) Yes, we have a spaghetti tree outside.

Outcomes (Noun Pl) Results or consequences. In the late nineteen nineties the term ‘outcomes’ took the place of ‘results’, mainly amongst education department bureaucrats but also business executives, as a way of making departmental language sound more formal and somehow more sophisticated. The term was then unfortunately used to describe an experimental style of teaching and assessment called Outcomes Based Education (OBE). OBE was absolutely pilloried by some teachers, parents and politicians as being wrong, ‘politically correct’, left-wing, Orwellian and invasive. Whether OBE was or wasn’t a good system, it shot itself in the foot with such ridiculous language.

Paradigm (noun) A pattern of ideas or myriad of examples. Has come to mean a number of abstract things to the point of being hideously misused, in the same way ‘synergy’ is. One awful example is the term ‘paradigm shift’ which simply means a change in thinking. It’s most accurate use is in cybernetics where it is used as a kind of ‘proto programme’ for the purpose of turning chaos into a classifiable order, i.e. a ‘pattern’. Used in 2010 by Queensland independent politician and defender of cane farmers, Bob Katter as a way of suggesting a whole new style of Federal politics, i.e. one where Bob and his mates finally had some influence. * Cane farmers reaching for the dictionary.

Partner (noun) Normally refers to a business colleague, sporting mate or bridge player (bridge being played in pairs). Can also mean the lover of a homosexual; but, as many countries, including Australia, refuse to recognise gay marriage, ‘partner’ is all these people can use to describe the most important person in their life.

Pass on (term) To give, as in hand to another or leave to another when one no longer needs it. Often used as a euphemism for ‘die’. Different from the term ‘pass away’ which, while still a euphemism for ‘die’, can only have one meaning, and is entirely understandable during moments of severe grief or tension.

Pass wind (term) Fart. While this is not really euphemistic or deceptive, why avoid a gorgeous word like ‘fart’?

‘Honourable Peace’ (term) This was the term used by U.S. president Nixon as he made public his promise of the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam in 1968 before ordering the bombing and invasion of Cambodia in 1969.

Pear-shaped (Adjective, as in “Gone pear-shaped”) Out of control, stuffed up or disastrous.  Why the shape of a pear should be so targeted is hard to fathom. I quite like the shape of pears. They look nothing like Mr Nixon’s part in the Vietnam War.

Physical (adjective) Using movement as opposed to stillness or thought. Can also be used as a cover for ‘violent’, particularly when referring to domestic violence. i.e. “I was really upset and I became physical with her”.

Piss (noun,) Urine. Also an Australian term for beer. Could be very confusing for new arrivals on their way to Australia who meet Australians and ask what one does in Australia for leisure activities. “Oh, we just sit around drinking piss mainly.”  “Oh, really!” Could be even more confusing for a refugee who arrives at their first Ozzie barbecue and are greeted with, “G’day Fong, piss in the fridge mate.”

Point Percy at the porcelain – (phrase – Australian) urinate.

Politically correct (term) An ironic way of describing terms that replace other terms  deemed by a section of society as insulting. E.g. The word ‘spastic’ became taboo, and was replaced with ‘A person with a disability’ This was considered a ‘politically correct’ change in language use (and for good reason, as ‘spastic’ had become an insult).  By the 1990s however ‘politically correct’ was appropriated by the right wing, Aus PM John Howard in particular, who used it to describe anything that didn’t support his way of thinking, i.e. saying “sorry” to Aboriginal people for many years of suffering and oppression. Terms such as ‘fire fighter’ and ‘store person’ also became labelled as politically correct because they took the word ‘man’ out of the originals. They also added a syllable, a sin in some parts of the world.

Pork Pie or Porkie. (noun) Australian rhyming slang. A term that means ‘a lie’ but is a little harder to prove in a slander trial.

Pre-emptive strike (term) To fire at an enemy before they have a chance to fire at you. This is used by military spokesmen all round the world based upon military intelligence that has been proven to have absolutely no credence, e.g. that Sadam Hussein was about to strike someone with weapons of mass destruction, so we therefore went in pre-emptively in 2003. It really is a euphemism for invasion, or international meddling.

Proactive (adjective) What Don Watson would call a ‘weasel word’ in that it sounds impressive but usually says nothing. The simple meaning is to create a situation rather than simply respond to one. But too often it’s used in corporate and QANGO strategic plans as a way of saying, “When the need arises we’ll be there to respond”, thus contradicting the meaning of ‘proactive’.

Protected Action (term) This is a term that means a ‘strike’, as in the withdrawal of labour for the purpose of demanding better pay and conditions. Not sure who invented it but it came into common use in Australian political circles in the late nineteen nineties, early two thousands. The word ‘strike’ was far too venomous and angry-sounding for all parties, including trade unions it seems.

“Pulling your leg.”  (term) lying, but in a funny kind of way.

Random (adjective) Haphazard. Occurring with no decipherable sequence. Has become a term used by young people meaning weird, bizarre, shocking, scary, intuitive or different etc; it seems that learning more than one describing word can be arduous to some. The equivalent in the seventies and eighties (the author’s generation) was radical.

Red hot go (term. Chiefly Australian) A genuine attempt to win in a sports game. In reality this is a way of saying, “We don’t have a chance (against far superior opposition) but we’ll try to save face”.

Reg Grundies (Aus rhyming slang) underpants or ‘undies’. Named after the Australian television producer Reg Grundy.

Relocation Centres (Noun pl.) A name used by WWII United States military personel and military historians to describe places where Japanese women and children were held. They were actually prisons.

Rest room (noun) A place to rest? Not a bad idea if you’ve spent too long in a crowded shopping centre. But alas, it really means toilet. Originated in 18th and 19th century theatres where it wasn’t used as a euphemism, as opera, music and theatre were so immensely long and boring people really did need a place to rest. Thus large rooms with lounges were provided for talking and smoking. As a matter of convenience, they were placed near the toilets. Perhaps they should bring them back.

Risk averse (term, adjective) Scared. A term one uses when one is clinging to the safe and conservative middle ground but doesn’t want to use the word ‘scared’. Really came into it’s own during the Rudd and Gillard Government (Aus. 2009 -10) as they threw overboard every policy that might associate them with the Left or even the humane.

Rolled Gold (term) Originally referred to gold that has been rolled with a cheaper metal; also the name of a Rolling Stones collection of hits. Used in the mid to late 2000s by politicians to describe a promise by their opponents that may be reneged upon. This is what George Orwell called a ‘dying metaphor’. It took only a month or two to kill this one, but much longer for politicians to stop using it.

Rub uglies (term – Australian) To fornicate.

Seasoned performer (term) Ham actor.

Second amendment remedies (term, U.S.) Nevada Republican candidate (and member of the Tea Party), Sharron Angle, used this term as a way of possibly responding to a decision by a U.S. judge to allow Mexican refugees access to the courts. It’s actually a veiled call to arms, the second amendment being all about the right to use guns. This term, and many other explicit references to possible violence, was considered by many commentators as inspiration for the shooting of Democrat politician Gabrielle Giffords in a Tucson supermarket in January 2011.
* Two gunfighters ready to draw. “I’d be wary if I were you son. I‘m one of the fastest users of second amendment remedies in the district.”

Sexual Assault (term) To physically force another to engage in a sexual act. This ‘act’ can have a number of possible descriptions and permutations. Came about because the term ‘rape’ was too specific, in that it implies male to female or male to male penetration. Unfortunately it had the effect of making ‘rape’ (a very clear and simple word) disappear from common usage. 

Shake hands with the wife’s best friend (phrase – Australian) Urinate.

Smart bomb (noun). Originally invented pre WWII by the Germans, this term describes a bomb that contains precision guidance technology in order to hit the target with greater accuracy than other (dumb?) bombs. While smart bombs might be more accurate, one can only wonder whether in the future the military wiz kids can invent a bomb that is so smart it will consider the ethical and moral consequences of its existence; this might then give it cause to veer off and explode in the sea, or even smash into the military headquarters of its users.

So (adverb and conjunctive) as in ‘thus’. Also used to give emphasis to feeling i.e. I am so angry. In recent times it has become a popular split infinitive amongst young people as a way of avoiding detailed or sophisticated  descriptions of feelings. i.e. I so hate those jeans. See totally.

Special (adjective) Thing or action of particular importance. Also a cover word for dumb or intellectually disadvantaged.  It replaced the word ‘retarded’. Gave much fun to high school students in the 1980s who often sang the song Special, by The Pretenders while acting like a person with a severe mental disability.

Specialist (noun) Doctor whom your GP can ring and hand-ball a problem to. Highly trained, particularly in the arts of condescending and obfuscating.

Special Ed (term) A very interesting and important guy called Edward? No, it means education for children who are below par in their learning abilities. Was once called ‘remedial’ but that went out of fashion in the late seventies.

‘Spot me’ (term) i.e. ‘Can you spot me fifty dollars?’ It means to lend money, but as the terms ‘lend’ and ‘borrow’ are avoided, the obligation to actually repay the money can also be avoided. Generally used by drug addicts.

Stakeholder (noun) Individual or company who has a monetary interest in something. Really another name for a sponsor or supplier of money, but it’s often considered rude to be called a sponsor or money giver.

Strain the potatoes – (phrase – Australian) urinate.

Studio Apartment (noun) A living place, often small with only one room that suffices for lounge, kitchen and dining area. Sounds far better than ‘one bedroom flat’ and conjures up a romantic, artistic atmosphere.

Surgical strikes (term) Surgeons striking for better pay and conditions? No, it’s a way of describing bombardment that is so accurate it’s like a surgeon going in and ridding the enemy of its cancer (enemy soldiers or terrorists, but too often civilians).  The term was first coined during the 1991 attack on Iraq by the U.S. Many commentators claimed there was no such thing as ‘surgical strikes’, particularly in the South where FAEs (Fuel Air Explosives) designed to destroy bunkers and minefields, were used directly on Iraqi soldiers. Not all those commentators were from the left.  On February 5, 1991, the Los Angeles Times reported that the air war had brought "a hellish night time of fires and smoke so dense that witnesses say the sun hasn't been clearly visible for several days at a time . . . [that the bombing is] levelling some entire city blocks . . . [and that there are] bomb craters the size of football fields and an untold number of casualties.” Surgical Strike is also the name of a U.S. produced movie written and directed in 1992 by James W. Riley, who went on to work as a special effects expert on such intellectual giants as Wirehead, CSI Miami and Shoot To Kill.

Sustainability (noun) The quality of being able to continue to exist. This word became the mantra of conservationists in the late nineties as a way of referring to machines, companies or systems that use less or cleaner fuel, or even wind or solar energy, and are thus better for the environment. Once this definition took hold, the word could be seen in millions of corporate motherhood statements to the point where it became hard to decipher whether the ‘sustainability’ actually referred to the affect on the environment or the simple fact that the company would keep running (regardless of what it does to the environment).

Synergy. (n) The process of things (including people) working together in order to be more efficient. Also a wonderful word to just throw in to impress other new-age business people, or to use as a new name for a dilapidated electricity utility.

Take him out (phrase) Kill or maim. Famously uttered by a U. S. Sergeant in the Vietnam war when captured on a documentary film by Aus film maker Neil Davis. In that particular scenario, a disorientated person of unknown allegiance is described as wandering through a battlefield and carrying a white flag. When asked what to do about him, the sergeant yells “Take him out”. The U.S. troops then kill him with M16 fire. * Could be very confusing when the daughter of a retired military commander says to her father, “Daddy, a boy at my school has asked if he can take me out tonight”.

“The day got away from me.” (phrase) An excuse for not returning a call or email because there was so much to do on a particular day.  Really a way of politely saying, “You were at the bottom end of my list of priorities”.

To be frank…’ (term) The speaker is about to be honest. This term should really bring into question all previous utterances the speaker has made.

Too easy (term. Aus) A way of describing customer service that causes little pain, as if some customer service might just do that. See not a problem and no worries.

Totally (adverb) Completely or absolutely. Recently it has become the most popular word to split infinitives with, i.e. I totally agree, or I totally won’t be going there. It’s purpose here is to replace any detailed description of a person’s feeling.  

Transition – (noun) the process of moving or changing. But unfortunately used as a verb to cover up for verbs the user doesn't want to use, like withdraw (soldiers from war) or move (poor people from houses the user wants to demolish) or deport
Two sandwiches short of a picnic (phrase – Australian) dumb or insane.

Über (German prefix) In German it means over or above, i.e. Über alles being over all. In articles by Australian Arts and Feature journalists it has a ‘super’ and ‘immense’ connotation (as used by Neitsche when he coined the term Übermensch, describing Man as mentally and spiritually higher than the other animals). Its purpose  today is to give the writer a sense of Euro mystique and elegance. Orwell called this ‘pretentious diction’. Regular columnist for The Australian, Janet Albrechtson, pops it out as if it’s everyday language, along with other German words such as Schadenfreude (enjoyment of others’ misfortune – [only the Germans could invent that!]) and Zeitgeist (ideas common to the current era). Janet at least has the excuse of being of Northern European descent. The others……Tch!!

Un-Australian (adjective) anything that isn’t Australian. Too often used in an attempt by angry commentators (often politicians) to paint a person or group with the tar of treason. Sometimes used to describe a person who has robbed, shot, murdered or raped others. In this case, the user should perhaps take another look at Australian history; that country was founded upon robbing and killing.

Unctuous (adjective) A great word that describes an ‘oily’ and self-satisfied person. Misused however, by certain politicians and commentators in an attempt to belittle people who are earnest or explicitly concerned about an issue. Perhaps sanctimonious is the word they are groping for.

Up the duff (term, Australian) pregnant.

Up the poo shoot (phrase – Australian) in the anus. Gets a lot of use when Australian men attempt to talk about prostate examinations. You mean he has to shove his forefinger…?

Vegemite miner (phrase – Australian) Male homosexual.

Weapons of mass destruction, a/k/a WMD (noun pl) While the term describes itself well, i.e. weapons that will kill lots of people after one accurate firing, it is generally used in regard to people who’s weapons are either too easy to make or not in the hands of the person using the term.

"Wet affairs" (term) To do with nappies and the changing thereof?  No, it’s a Russian term (mokrie dela) used by department “V” of the KGB, also known as the Executive Action Department, which meant murder, sabotage or kidnapping. The word ‘wet’ was used in association with blood, i.e. lots of it flowing out of people’s bodies.

“With respect…” (term) An attempt to pre-emptively assuage a person before rudely insulting them or questioning their argument.

Woman’s Weekly – magazine name. An Australian magazine that used to come out once a week but now comes out once a month, but for some strange reason is not called Woman’s Monthly, or even Woman’s Periodical.

Won't suffer fools gladly  (phrase)  Normally used to describe a person who likes to be honest in their criticism of peers and colleagues, but too often used as a cover word for an intolerant bully who shouldn’t work with anyone.

Worker flexibility (Term) Yoga and Thai Chi during work breaks? No, sadly a term used by several Australian and British Government and business spokespeople to mean giving up hard-won conditions and pay ‘for the good of the company’ and thus for the good of the economy. The term Workplace flexibility is very different, as it refers to a process of genuine negotiation regarding time and pay between employers and employees, i.e. the flexibility might be mutual.