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furphy (FUR-fee) noun
A rumor; false story.
[From John Furphy, an Australian blacksmith and engineer, who designed a galvanised iron water-cart on wheels, displaying the name FURPHY in large letters. In World War I the Army bought many Furphy water and sanitation carts for camps in Palestine, Egypt. and Australia. When soldiers gathered around them, the carts became centers of gossip. The word scuttlebutt originated in a similar way.]
"Bookmakers are confident in the integrity of the AFL and the security used
to guard the Brownlow Medal votes, believing any leaks are mere gossip and
unfounded. Centrebet spokesman Gerard Daffy said last week's leak tipping
St Kilda midfielder Robert Harvey winning a third Brownlow was a furphy."
"If it is proved that the bugs originated from space, then the damage
to the ozone layer may also have originated from space. This will render
the ozone theory a furphy."
This week's guest wordsmith Eric Shackle writes:
When British naval officer and explorer Captain James Cook landed at Botany Bay, near Sydney, in 1770, Australia's indigenous people, the Aborigines, had never seen a white man. Numerous tribes spoke a wide variety of languages, many now extinct.
Kangaroo was the first and best-known borrowing of an Aboriginal word into English, according to the Australian National Dictionary Centre: "In 1770, when Captain Cook was forced to make repairs to the Endeavour in north Queensland, he and his party saw a number of large marsupials. From the local Aborigines Cook elicited kangaroo or kanguru as the name of one of the animals. This was in the Guugu Yimidhirr language of Cooktown. The Aborigines gave the name for a species of kangaroo - the large black or grey kangaroo Macropus robustus. Cook mistakenly thought that this was a general or generic term for all kangaroos (and even wallabies), and this is how the word came into English."
This week, we'll discuss five other words that originated in Australia.
(This week's Guest Wordsmith, Eric Shackle, is a retired journalist who has written for the New York Times, the Straits Times (Singapore), the Sydney Morning Herald, and many other newspapers. He is also copy editor for AWAD, and lives near Sydney, Australia. Anu Garg is traveling in Asia.)
A book is a story for the mind. A song is a story for the soul. -Eric Pio, poet