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Oct 6, 2020
This week’s theme
Words coined after mythical creatures

This week’s words
unicorn
bunyip
gremlin
snark
Bigfoot

bunyip
Art: David Lancashire
Stamp: Australia Post

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

bunyip

PRONUNCIATION:
(BUHN-yip)

MEANING:
noun: An impostor.
adjective: Counterfeit; phony.

ETYMOLOGY:
After bunyip, a large mythical creature of Australian Aboriginal legend, who lives in swamps, riverbeds, etc. The word is from Wemba-Wemba or Wergaia language of the Aboriginal people in Victoria. Earliest documented use: 1848.

NOTES:
The most popular usage of the word is in the term “bunyip aristocracy” to refer to people pretending to be socially superior. It was first used by the journalist and politician Daniel Deniehy satirizing an attempt to establish a hereditary peerage in Australia. The label “bunyip aristocracy” stuck and the proposal was dropped.

USAGE:
“Greens leader Christine Milne said Mr Abbott was trying to create a fake class system in Australia, a ‘bunyip aristocracy’.”
Labor Likens Tony Abbott to Marty McFly; AAP General News Wire (Sydney, Australia); Mar 26, 2014.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It's said that "power corrupts", but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power. When they do act, they think of it as service, which has limits. The tyrant, though, seeks mastery, for which he is insatiable, implacable. -David Brin, scientist and science fiction author (b. 6 Oct 1950)

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