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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Quack  A Medical Officer.

General Australian. From 1919 (AND). Attested in numerous sources.

‘Quack’ from the 17th century referred to ‘a medical charlatan’. The neutral sense, as used here, is Australian.

Quarter-bloke  Quarter-master.

General World War I. From 1919 (OED). Attested in numerous sources.

Quick Dick

World War I. Attested in Cutlack, F&G, and Partridge.

This was a nickname for a high-velocity gun (Cutlack).

*Quiff  An idiosyncracy. ‘Regimental Quiff’, a method of performing a drill movement.

General military. Attested in B&P, Digger Dialects, and F&G.

This is a specific adaptation of ‘quiff’ meaning ‘a clever trick or dodge’, from 1881 (OED). F&G provide the following explanation of its use in a military sense: ‘Any specially ingenious smart, tricky, or novel or improvised way of doing anything (Navy). In the Army used of any drill method peculiar to a battalion, and not usually done in others. Where the wording of the Drill Book is vague, units often read different meanings into the phraseology and invent their own “Quiffs”’.

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