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Words: Wowser, n.

AT THE small Arno Bay Hotel, in Port Lincoln, Australia, there has been controversy over plans for a casino. Wowsers are against it.

The MP Nick Xenophon, no less, claims that "this isn't about being a wowser, this is a social-impact issue". That's their problem, but for us the surprise is that this word - etymology maddeningly obscure, and a strange first syllable for something that means a killjoy - was in recent use in both England and America before becoming Australian.

In 1963 The Economist called Barry Goldwater an "alien wowser" and The Times in 1977 described the licensing laws as "the work of wowsers", while Pierre Trudeau made the stylish remark, in Australia, that "you have wowserism; we have Toronto".