From Freo to the Gong: National Dictionary Centre on the lookout for town nicknames

It’s no secret Australians love a good nickname. We create them for our close friends, our most senior politicians, and even our favourite places.

It’s a habit that’s caught the attention of the Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC), based at The Australian National University.

The ANDC is launching its first ever annual appeal for contributions for the Australian National Dictionary – a dictionary of Australian words and their origins, published by Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand.

This year’s theme is “nicknames for places”.

The ANDC is collecting the unique names we have for the places we live in, drive through and visit.

“The informality and humour commonly found in Australian English obviously extends to naming places as well,” said ANDC Editor, Mark Gwynn.

“If there’s a place in Australia that hasn’t received a nickname yet, it’s only a matter of time.”

Mr Gwynn says these nicknames can give people a sense of ownership of their hometown.

“The informality can also make visitors feel welcome,” Mr Gwynn said.

When it comes to picking a favourite, there are plenty of options.

Some describe attributes of a place, like ‘the Top End’ (for the Northern Territory) or ‘Apple Isle’ (for Tasmania). Others are simple abbreviations – think ‘Freo’ (for Fremantle) or ‘the Gong’ (for Wollongong), while others could be considered more derogatory, such as ‘Brisvegas’ (for Brisbane).

“If you have a nickname for your special place, we want to hear from you,” said ANDC Director Dr Amanda Laugesen.

“Contributions from the public are a very important way of alerting us to new words,” she said.

“That’s why we plan to have an annual appeal, based on a particular topic or theme, that we hope will encourage contributions from the public and prompt discussion about our language and words.”

If you’d like to be part of the appeal, visit the ANDC Facebook page or Twitter @ozworders.


Mark Gwynn

Editor, Australian National Dictionary Centre 
M: +61 434 872 848
T:  +61 2 6125 0477
Amanda Laugesen
Director, Australian National Dictionary Centre 
M: +61 412 741 551 
T:  +61 2 6125 0474

About the Australian National Dictionary Centre

The Australian National Dictionary Centre at ANU undertakes research into Australian English in partnership with Oxford University Press, and edits Australian dictionaries for Oxford University Press.


About The Australian National University

ANU is a world-leading university in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. Our location points to our unique history, ties to the Australian Government and special standing as a resource for the Australian people.

Our focus on research as an asset, and an approach to education, ensures our graduates are in demand the world-over for their abilities to understand, and apply vision and creativity to addressing complex contemporary challenges.

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