Glossary of Slang and Peculiar Terms in Use in the A.I.F.

Annotated edition


Edited by Amanda Laugesen

This is an annotated edition of the Glossary. There is the original entry (errors are corrected; the original manuscript retains all spelling and grammatical idiosyncrasies); a line providing information about the word (for example, if it was generally used, if it was Australian, and so on), the first date it was recorded, and a reference to other texts that attest to the word's usage. This is followed by some additional information explaining the word and its context. In some cases, a citation (a quote showing how it was used at the time) is also included. Links to webpages with further information about terms, equipment, events and other relevant aspects of the experience of the Great War have been provided where possible.

Entries with * are those that are identical to Downing's Digger Dialects. Others may be borrowed from Downing but are not specific enough to be marked. Some of those marked have been added to by Pretty. For an explanation of the relationship between the two texts, see the introduction. Those with the headword italicised are those added to the typescript of the glossary by hand by A.W. Bazley.

Abbreviations (for texts referred to in annotations).

This section contains a selection of AIF slangs annotated edition, their meanings, and their etymologies.

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Igaree  Quick (Arabic). A peculiar feature of A.I.F. slang was the combination of words adapted from different languages, i.e. ‘Igaree at the toot’, ‘run away quickly from’, the latter portion of the phrase being derived from the French ‘toute’.

General Army. From the late 19th century (Partridge). Attested in numerous sources.

‘Igaree’, also spelt ‘iggry’ or ‘igri’, was an Arabic phrase picked up by the British forces in Egypt in the late 19th century. It was also popular with the troops stationed there in World War I. The definition provided here suggests that it was taken by the Australian soldiers to France where it was also used with some French words to make new phrases.

Imshee  Go away (Arabic).

General World War I. Chiefly Australian. From 1916 (AND). Attested in numerous sources.

This was variously spelt as ‘imshi’ and ‘imshy’. The phrase was picked up by the Australian troops serving in Egypt and was taken on to the European battlefields.

Inked  Drunk.

General Australian. From 1898 (AND). Attested in numerous sources.

In the Gun  Under disfavour.

General Australian. From 1919 (AND).

Digger Dialects provides the first recorded evidence of this phrase with this meaning. It may well be a transferred use of the British slang ‘in the gun’ meaning ‘drunk’ which dates back to the late 17th century (Partridge).

*Iodine King  A regimental medical officer; the A.M.C. corporal in a battalion.

World War I Australian. Attested here and in Digger Dialects.

‘The Iodines’ is recorded by Baker and Partridge as Australian Army slang for the Army Medical Corps. Iodine is commonly used as a mild antiseptic.

Iodine Lancers  Nursing section of the A.A.M.C.

World War  I. Attested here and in Digger Dialects but not otherwise recorded.

Presumably related to Iodine King. A ‘lancer’ was historically a soldier of a cavalry regiment armed with lances (weapons with pointed steel heads), and presumably the allusion is to medical instruments such as lancets (a smaller version of lances).

*Iron Foundry  A very heavy shell.

General World War I. Attested in Digger Dialects and Lighter.

‘Iron foundries’ meaning ‘heavy shelling’ is also recorded in B&P and Partridge.

Iron Rations  (1) Ammunition. (2) Officially the tinned preserved meat and biscuits that all the troops carried but were only supposed to use when absolutely necessary.

(1) General World War I. Attested in numerous sources.

An ironic use of (2), that usually specifically referred to shells (Hargrave).

(2) General Services’. From 1860 (Partridge). Attested in numerous sources.

This was an old Army and Navy word for the rations given, especially tinned meat. It was also, according to Dickson, in use during the American Civil War. It was then applied specifically to emergency rations in World War I, and ironically used for the shell-fire soldiers were subjected to.

*Issue (1) A portion. (2) ‘To go one’s issue’, to be killed. (3) ‘To get the whole issue of a shell’, to be struck bodily by a shell.

(1) General. Originally US. From 1861 (OED).

This is probably derived from the sense of ‘an item or amount of something given out or distributed’, often used in a military context.

(2) This sense attested here and in Digger Dialects but not otherwise recorded.

(3) ‘The whole issue’, general from 1919 (OED).

Digger Dialects provides the first recorded of ‘the whole issue’ meaning ‘everything, the lot’. It may well have originated in a World War I context.

*It’s a Nice Day For It  A sardonic phrase applied to anything unpleasant, e.g. an attack which is likely to prove costly.

World War I. Attested here and in Digger Dialects but not otherwise recorded.

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