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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*Zero Time  The hour at which the battle commences.

World War I. Attested here and in Digger Dialects.

This is a variant of ‘zero’ and ‘zero hour’ which, as F&G explain, was ‘the time officially appointed for the opening of an attack, kept secret at headquarters and meanwhile referred to as “zero”, the actual time being finally made known to the troops to be employed only at the latest possible moment before the attack.’

Ziff  A beard.

General Australian. From 1917 (AND). Attested in numerous sources.

Zig-Zag  Drunk.

General World War I. Attested in numerous sources.

‘Zigzag’ originally entered English through French in the 18th century. Its ultimate origin is unknown, but it is ‘partly symbolic, suggesting the two different directions’ (OED). It appears to have picked up by the soldiers during World War I, in the sense of ‘drunk’, although OED does suggest it was chiefly US.

*Zubrich-Farmer   See ‘Treacle-miner’.

Attested here and in Digger Dialects but not otherwise recorded.

‘Zubric(k)’ is a Services’ term for a penis, based on Arabic.

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