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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Vaseline  Butter or vaseline.

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

As a slang term for ‘butter’, this was current from the late 19th century into the early 20th century. Digger Dialects records this as a term for ‘margarine’ as well.

*Vent a Tair  Quickly; to the limit of one’s ability: at full speed. From the French ‘Ventre à Terre’.

World War I. Corruption of the French. Attested here and in Digger Dialects.

In French this is ‘(courir) ventre à terre’, meaning ‘to run at top speed’.

Vertical Atmosphere  See ‘Wind Up’ [no entry].

World War I. Attested here but not otherwise recorded.

Hargrave records the variation ‘vertical breeze’ as the equivalent to ‘wind up’.

*Very Nice, Very Good, Very Sweet, Very Clean, Mister Mackenzie  A street phrase of the Egyptian hawkers and shopkeepers in extolling their wares to an Australian.

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

Vin Blank  White wine, see ‘Point Blank’.

General World War I. Attested in numerous sources.

Partridge suggests this variant was used by the Australian soldiers, while the New Zealanders used the term ‘vin blink’, and the British ‘ving blong’. Arthur and Ramson make the point that ‘Vin blanc has been used in English since 1814, but was borrowed freshly by Service personnel in WWI. Vin blank, point blank and von blink exemplify the word-play which led finally, via plinketty plonk (rhyming slang), to plonk.’

Vin Roush  Red wine.

General. From 1917 (OED).

The OED and B&P record this as ‘vin rouge’.

Von Blinked  Drunk.

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

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