Show some flair, nickname expert urges


A linguistics expert who specialises in the history of nicknames in Australia has slammed the lack originality, humour and cut-through in monikers applied of late to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Professor Iva Monica of the University of Broken Hill’s English department says he’s appalled by the quality of the nicknames given to the PM over recent times.

“Since colonial times, Australians have been brilliant at coming up with fantastic nicknames for people confronted by a strange and hostile environment and ones that suited their jobs or their appearance or their personalities or their total lack of personal hygiene – or whatever!” Prof Monica said.

“Anyone who’s ever enjoyed a drink in a pub would have known a “Whisper” or two – a bloke who’s never been known to shout or a fellow who wouldn’t shout if a shark bit him.

“Wags never missed a chance to nail some malingerer or bore on the wharves since the days of sail with a wonderfully apt putdown that by its very brilliance stuck, such as the wharfie called The Fireman with a girlfriend called Appendix. He was The Fireman because everybody told him to go to blazes, and she Appendix because ‘you’d only take her out once’.

“Regrettably, some of the nicknames applied to the PM of late are great, but are almost as old as the Adelaide Hills,” Prof Monica said.

“Of course it’s great that “Blister” – Morrison only appears after all the hard work has been done! – has popped up in the wake of the bushfires and his general COVID-19 response.

“The origins of Blister are unclear but it probably began on an Aussie wharf or in a shearing shed.

“And ‘Sergeant Schultz’ – I know NUTHINK! – and ‘Mushroom’ – he’s kept in the dark and fed bullshit – are welcome in light of what he never got to know about the rape at Parliament House.

“But here’s my challenge to Australia! Let’s come up with a fresh, original nickname for the leader of our nation!

“And let’s dismiss from the outset the likes of Smirko, SloMo, Smoko, ScumMo, ScamMo and Shirko. Surely, we’re more inventive than that.

“Long labels such as Scotty from Marketing, Smirk and Mirrors, The Liar from the Shire, God Botherer, the Slogan Bogan, Lord of the Lies, The Happy Clapper, The Crime Minister, The Coal Whisperer and The Crook from Cook should also be avoided.

“And please remember that cunt, shithead, dickhead and arsehole are really not nicknames, no matter how apt they might be in this situation.”

The Fireman and Appendix found in an old SMH Column 8.