calm your farm

calm your farm

Calm your farm (also calm the farm) interjection: relax; calm down.

Some years ago we became aware of a new idiom entering the Australian lexicon: calm your farm. The earliest evidence is in the context of political satire, expressed in very colloquial language:

The deal Kevin Rudd has pitched to the green lobby goes something like this: KR: OK, funsters. … Things are getting tougher, so I'm gunna need those sandals, that hemp shirt, your bike and those fun hacky sack balls…. Greenies: Huh? What? Damn! etc. KR: Wait a minute there, dudesters. Calm your farm You're not gunna lose out. (Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 2009)

Calm your farm means ‘relax’ or ‘calm down’. In the quote above it is an interjection, and this is the way it is still mostly used: ‘Obviously you people don't get the joke. Calm your farm, people. (Goulburn Post, 8 February 2017) Sometimes it appears as a verbal phrase, but this is not common: ‘He'll be here in a few days and you can all calm your farm.’ (Bridie Jabour, The Way Things Should Be, 2018)

The word farm is figurative in calm your farm. Australian English already has a couple of established expressions that include farm in a figurative sense: In the phrases to sell off the farm or buy back the farm the ‘farm’ refers to Australia, or the Australian economy, as considered to be under the control or influence of foreign investors. However, calm your farm does not have an inherent political or economic reference, and is unlikely to be related to these expressions. We also see the variant calm the farm, a form popular in New Zealand.

Where did this expression come from? At present its origin is uncertain, but the fact that farm rhymes with calm likely played a part in its creation. We see rhyming wordplay in other Australian expressions too, such as more arse than class and all over red rover. Rhyme appeals to us. This is especially evident in a series of rhyming catchphrases based on place names, the best known being things are crook in Tallarook. Related catchphrases include got the arse at Bulli Pass, there’s no work at Bourke, in jail at Innisfail, and so on.

This strange year is a time when many of us could do with a reminder to take it easy. Certainly, newspaper headlines in March were telling us to do just that: ‘ Calm your farm! Supermarkets and farmers reassure Australian public during coronavirus crisis’ (Parkes Champion Post); ‘Call to all to calm your farm’ (Ballarat Courier); and ‘Calm your farm over coronavirus’ (Stock & Land).

Calm your farm will be considered for inclusion in the next edition of the Australian National Dictionary.

Updated:  1 November 2020/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications