June 27 2017, updated 9:56am

Helengrad extends its influence

Last updated 00:00 01/01/2009

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Helengrad  - a noun used to describe the iron grip of New Zealand's prime minister over Wellington - has been recognised internationally in the latest edition of Australia's largest online dictionary.

History surrounding the word is dubious.

Wikipedia credits a talkback caller in 1999 or early 2000 for coining the word.

It eventually made print in May 2000 when National leader Jenny Shipley was quoted as calling Miss Clark "an interfering Minister of Everything and running a 'Helengrad' regime".

Victoria University linguist Laurie Bauer said "Helengrad" would probably have a short lifespan as it "had to have Helen there [in Parliament], and some sort of notion that there is a Stalin-like regime in place" for the word to work.

Listed as a colloquial humorous word in the politics section, it is formed by adding the suffix -grad - a common Russian ending meaning "town" - to Miss Clark's first name in an attempt to mirror cities in the former Soviet Union named after rulers - Leningrad and Stalingrad.

It takes its place in the Macquarie dictionary among 85 other "new" words including "man flu" - a minor cold contracted by a man who greatly exaggerates the symptoms - and "arse antlers", the name given to a tattoo on a woman's lower back, stretching across and around the hips.

"Climate sceptic" (a non-believer that global warming is taking place) is also an addition to the online dictionary.

Dr Bauer said the fact there was a large increase of words around ecological and computer areas showed that people were "increasingly discussing those topics".

New Zealand dictionary centre director Dianne Bardsley said new Kiwi phrases included "golden koha" for golden handshake and "cardy city" for Wellington.

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- The Dominion Post

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