Bogans, petrolheads join official slang ranks

Last updated 09:56 19/09/2008
Fairfax Media
CHER, BRO: Bogans and petrolheads have been officially recognised as words in the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang.

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Bogans and petrolheads might not seem the most obvious inhabitants of an English language institution.

But the terms have made it into the new edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang.

Petrolhead, believed to have been coined in the 1980s as an adaptation of the American equivalent motorhead to describe a car enthusiast, is among 350 newcomers to the 6000-word dictionary.

Publishers Oxford University Press suggested petrolhead earned its place after becoming cemented in the British psyche, possibly through the huge popularity of UK motoring TV show Top Gear.

Bogan is defined as: "An uncouth, stupid, or square person."

The second edition of the slang dictionary, titled Stone The Crows and launched this week, comes 16 years after the first.

Also included for the first time in 2008 was Phwoar – previously more a sound uttered to convey lust, but now defined in the dictionary as an actual word "expressing enthusiastic or lubricious approval".

Co-editor John Ayto said slang seemed to be much more widely accepted in society and the media now than in the past.

"Thousands of new slang words and expressions have flooded into the English language, most of them to be flushed summarily away," Ayto said.

"The fear of appearing fuddy-duddy has helped the spread of youth slang beyond its original enclaves."

Among other terms attributed to Australia and included was: "Norm – A person who spends leisure time passively or idly. . . from the name of a cartoon character created in 1975 by Alex Stitt."

Plenty of drinking terms made the list this time around.

Beer goggles, mashed, trolleyed, and wazzed joined the ever-growing list of words to describe states of intoxication.

And there was rhyming slang as well, with Britney Spears for "beers".

Readers can now look up slang expressions in their favourite subject area – including incompetence, insanity, or certain parts of the body – via a new thematic index at the back of the dictionary.

Some familiar and self-explanatory terms such as builder's bum, arm candy and stud muffin were joined by more obscure ones like hairy eyeball, American for a look given with narrowed eyes indicating hostility or disapproval.

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