Meanings and origins of Australian words and idioms

This section contains a selection of Australian words, their meanings, and their etymologies.

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verandah over the toy shop

A man's large protruding belly; a ‘beer gut’.  This phrase is a jocular allusion to toy shop in the sense ‘sexual wares’ (with reference to the male genitals). In standard English a verandah is ‘a roofed platform along the outside of a house, level with the ground floor’, but in Australia it also refers to the same kind of open-sided roofed structure over a shop or commercial building. The verandah is a significant architectural feature in Australia, and although Australian shops now rarely have such verandahs, the phrase verandah over the toy shop is still current. It is first recorded in 1987. Variants include verandah over the tool shed.

1991 Australian Financial Review (Sydney) 10 September: Santa training courses start in October—so pull out that red suit with the fur trimmings, and get accustomed to sticky fingers and wet patches on your knee. A small veranda over the toy shop probably wouldn't hurt either.

2009 J. Castrission Crossing the Ditch: He was looking slimmer and fitter than ever before. Normally, his cheeks had a decent puff in them and his veranda over the toy shop would have no trouble resting on the table edge.

vegemite: happy little vegemite, Vegemite kid

Vegemite is a concentrated yeast extract used as a spread. It was registered as a trademark in 1923, and became one of Australia’s favourite spreads for toast and sandwiches. The phrase happy little vegemite means ‘a cheerful or satisfied person', and is recorded from 1954. The phrase derives from an advertising campaign in the same year that included the jingle: ‘We're happy little Vegemites As bright as bright can be. We all enjoy our Vegemite For breakfast, lunch, and tea.’ (See the video on our archived blog ‘A History of Vegemite’.)

2001 B. Courtenay Four Fires: So the Owens Valley CFA weren't always happy little Vegemites.

The 1980s saw another term adopted into Australian English from a  Vegemite advertising campaign. Ads included the line ‘I’ll always be a Vegemite kid’, and Vegemite kid came to mean not only 'a child who eats Vegemite', but 'a typical Australian'.

1996 Sydney Morning Herald 19 June: Jane Campion? She's an Aussie. Neil Finn? A true-blue Vegemite kid. Mel Gibson? He fought at Gallipoli, didn't he?… That was just a movie? Oh, close enough.


Updated:  19 October 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications