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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Umpteen  Any number of.

General. From 1918 (OED). Attested in numerous sources.

Partridge argues that was originally signallers’ slang (see Ack), and ‘umpteen’ was used to disguise the number of a brigade or division. Dennis records the variation ‘umpty’ as early as 1916.

*Unexpected Portion  An ironic perversion of the familiar official phrase ‘unexpended portion of the day’s rations’. It originated in times when owing to avoidable or unavoidable causes no rations arrived for the troops.

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

*Up Jump  Upstart; interloper.

General Australian. From 1919 (AND).

Digger Dialects is the first recorded evidence of this term (as 'upjump').

*Up the Line  In action. ‘Up the line with the best of luck’, a satirical phrase applied to men who after being in safe occupations, were returned to the fighting units.

General World War I. From 1916 (OED).

*Up to Putty  Bad; useless; ineffectual.

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

This is a play on putty’s flexible consistency and softness (Green).

Up to Us  Our turn or responsibility.

Attested here, in Dennis, and in Lawson.

This was probably a short-lived catchphrase, referring to the duty of Australians to fight in the war.

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