Letter: Wowser country
Friday 01 January 1999
And only in Australia: over a period of two years during the war here I found no English person who understood the word and for more than 30 years past here, I have consistently had to explain to English people what it means and even how to spell it.
My 1951 edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary includes it - correctly - as "puritanical fanatic" with its source as Australia. I have never known an American who knew the word or its meaning, including my American relatives.
I cannot say that it has never been used elsewhere, but it surely is as Australian as "bunyip" (a mythical animal) or "furphy" (rumour).
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