You will be surprised how many phrases from The Great War are still in use today

PHOTO-The Great War Exhibition FB page

I spent some time at The Great War Exhibition on the weekend, entertaining visitors in our fabulous capital city. If you are ever in Wellington with a few hours to spare, I can thoroughly recommend you spend the time here. It tells the story well and is in every respect a superb exhibition. On what must be my 3rd or 4th visit, what caught my eye this time were the phrases from The Great War, which are still in use today. It was a bit of a surprise that words we use every day without much thought for their origin have come from very different times. We face a very different enemy today, with no clear borders and no safe countries, so it?s as well we have these daily reminders of battles fought and freedoms won. So we always remember.

Phrases from The Great War, still in use today:

Wash out: Referred to aspiring offices who failed to earn their commission, but by 1915 it was widely used to describe any kind of failure

Bangers: Sausages supplied to the troops had an alarming tendency to explode if the casing wasn?t pricked

Break new ground: Digging a new trench ? it now refers to doing something not done before.

Bonk: to shell with artillery fire. It?s taken on a different meaning today.

Guff: Soldiers term for rumours ? today it means information of little value.

When the balloon goes up: before a battle, observation balloons would rise into the sky. Today it?s still used to refer to the moment that foretells a major event is about to happen.

Tanks: In 1915 when the Armoured Landships were in early development, a code name was needed to disguise their true purpose. Due to their iron box-like structure, the chosen codename was ?Water Tank?. However, this codename stuck and has been in use ever since.

Blotto: Soldiers term for being drunk.

Pushing up daisies: Euphemism for dead and buried. Also ?numbers up? ?copping a packet?, ?knocked over?, ?skittled?, ?clicked it?, ?snuffed it?, ?Drawing your full issue? & ?Becoming a landowner?.

Blood bath: derived from a German description of the Somme in 1916.

Strife: taken from German ?strafe? meaning ?to punish?, to describe various forms of trouble.

Bumf: The enormous mass of official correspondence from Headquarters, disliked by the soldiers, was often used as toilet paper, or Bumfodder?.

Snapshot: quickly aimed rifle shot

Souvenir: Australian and New Zealanders began using this French term. Previously they would have said ?keepsake?

Camouflage: From French meaning ?disguise?, it came into side use by all sides during the Great War

Shoot yourself in the foot: A ruse used by soldiers to get repatriated back to England. These days it refers to doing something that makes you look foolish.

Scarper: run away

The 11th hour: The armistice ending the Great War came into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Today we use it to describe prolonging something to the last moment.

So we always remember.

PHOTO-supplied to Whaleoil
Image from Pukeahu National War Memorial Park where the Museum is. It is the canopy of the tree which is the UK Memorial, two trees – the English Oak and the NZ Pohutukawa intertwine to symbolise the union of the two countries standing side by side.


This post was written by Intern Staff