[Editor: A humourous glossary of terms used by Australian soldiers during World War One. Published in Aussie: The Australian Soldiers’ Magazine, no. 1, 18 January 1918.]
(For the use of those at Home)
ARCHIE. — A person who aims high and is not discouraged by daily failures.
A.W.L. — An expensive form of amusement entailing loss to the Commonwealth and extra work for one’s pals.
BARRAGE. — That which shelters or protects, often in an offensive sense, i.e., loud music forms a barrage against the activity of a bore; a barrage of young brothers and sisters interferes with the object of a visit; and an orchard is said to be barraged by a large dog or an active owner.
BEER. — A much appreciated form of nectar now replaced by a coloured liquor of a light yellow taste.
BINT. — A small dark tart.
CAMOUFLAGE. — A thin screen disguising or concealing the main thing, i.e., a camouflage of sauce covers the iniquity of stale fish; a suitor camouflages his true love by paying attention to another girl; ladies in evening dress may or may not adequately camouflage their charms; and men resort to a light camouflage of drink to conceal a sorrow or joy.
CIVILIAN. — A male person of tender or great age, or else of weak intellect and faint heart.
CIVIES. — A quaint garb formerly worn by most of the A.I.F., now long out of use and almost forgotten.
COLD FEET. — Appendages found on leadswingers. No connection with the pedal terminations of Billzac in frosty weather or in wet trenches.
COMMUNIQUE. — An amusing game played by two or more people with paper and pencil in which the other side is always losing and your own side is always winning. This was formerly called “Bulletin,” but has nothing to do with the “Bully.”
COMPREE. — Means “I understand,” or “Do you understand”; often used in a warning or threatening sense, i.e., “compree one on the sound box?” preparatory to a clout on the ear.
DIGGER. — A friend, pal, or comrade, synonymous with cobber; a white man who runs straight.
DUD. — A negative term signifying useless, ineffective or worthless, e.g., a “dud” egg; a “dud of a girl” is one who is unattractive; and a dud joke falls flat.
DUGOUT. — A deep recess in the earth usually too small. As an adjective it is used to denote that such a one avoids hopping over the bags, or, indeed, venturing out into the open air in a trench. At times the word is used to denote antiquated relics employed temporarily.
EGGS-A-COOK. — An Egyptian dish, also known as “2 for 1/2,” and now used to express that which is expensive and barely worth while.
FINNEE. — Meaning “that’s all,” done with or completed.
HOME. — The place or places where Billzac would fain be when the job is done Also known as “Our Land” and “Happyland.”
HOPOVER. — A departure from a fixed point into the Unknown, also the first step in a serious undertaking.
IMSHI. — Means “go,” “get out quickly.” Used by the speaker, the word implies quick and noiseless movement in the opposite direction to the advance.
LEAVE. — A state or condition of ease, comfort and pleasure, involving the cessation of work; not to be confounded with sick leave. Time is measured by leaves denoting intervals of from 3 months to 3 years. Leave on the other hand is measured by time, usually too short.
MUD. — Unpleasantness, generally connected with delay, danger or extreme discomfort. Hence a special meaning of baseness in “his name is mud.”
OVER THE BAGS. — The intensive form of danger; denoting a test of fitness and experience for Billzac and his brethren.
PERHAM DOWNS. — A place of condemnation.
PIP.—A symbol of authority, i.e., a man gets another pip when his position is materially improved from what it was. To lose a pip implies the converse.
Q. — A form of Providence to arrange things that are too difficult for others to see to. Generally used in the phrase “‘Q’ will arrange,” being the military form of D.V.
RAT. — Is the method of removing property from those no longer able to use it.
REFERENDUM. — Any method of spending time and money without useful result.
RELIEF. — A slow process of changing places; occurs in Shakespeare: “for this relief many thanks.”
REST. — A mythical period between being relieved and relieving in the trenches, which is usually spent in walking away from the line and returning straight back in poor weather and at short notice.
R.M.O. — See Digger.
RUNNER OR DUCKBOARD HARRIER. — See Digger.
SAEEDA. — Greetings.
SALVAGE. — To rescue unused property and make use of it. The word is also used of the property rescued. Property salvaged in the presence of the owner leads to trouble and is not done by an expert.
S.B. — See Digger.
SOUVENIR. — Is generally used in the same sense as salvage, but of small, easily portable articles. Coal or firewood, for instance, is salvaged at night, but an electric torch would be souvenired.
STUNT. — A successful enterprise or undertaking usually involving surprise. A large scale stunt lacks the latter and is termed a “push,” and the element of success is not essential.
SWINGING THE LEAD. — A scandalous process by means of which pay and rations are obtained in safety though no work is done in return.
TRENCHES. — Long narrow excavations in earth or chalk, sometimes filled with mud containing soldiers, bits of soldiers, salvage and alleged shelters.
WHITE RABBITS. — Decorations of small value and fancy names.
WIND UP. — An aerated condition of mind due to apprehension as to what may happen next, in some cases amounting to an incurable disease closely allied to “cold feet.”
ZERO. — A convenient way of expressing an indefinite time or date, i.e., will meet you at zero; call me at zero plus 30; or, to a debt collector, pay day at zero.
Aussie: The Australian Soldiers’ Magazine, no. 1, 18 January 1918, pages 10-11
A.I.F. = Australian Imperial Force; the First Australian Imperial Force was created in 1914 to fight in World War One, the Second Australian Imperial Force was created in 1939 to fight in World War Two
A.W.L. = Absent Without Leave; the American version of “AWL” was “AWOL”, which is the abbreviation now commonly used (“AWL” in some modern contexts can mean “Absent With Leave”)
See: 1) Amanda Laugesen (editor), “Glossary of Slang and Peculiar Terms in Use in the A.I.F.”, Australian National Dictionary Centre (Australian National University) (accessed 5 March 2014)
2) The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations, second edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, page 46 (accessed 5 March 2014)
3) Deborah W. Cutler and Thomas J. Cutler, Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations, Annapolis (Maryland): Naval Institute Press, 2005, page 44 (accessed 5 March 2014)
Billzac = an Australian soldier (World War One slang, a combination of “Billjim” and “Anzac”; “Bill-Jim”, being a combination of the common first names “Bill” and “Jim”, was used in Australia from the late 1800s, and during World War One was commonly used as a slang term for an Australian soldier)
D.V. = (Latin) an abbreviation of “Deo volente” (“God willing”)
fain = happily or gladly; ready or willing; obliged or compelled
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