Word Map is mapping Australian regionalisms—words, phrases or expressions used by particular language groups.” Click on “Map search” at the left and you’ll get a map divided into regions; click on one to find words and phrases peculiar to it. There’s also an A-Z list, and if you’re a regional Australian you can add your own. (Via Taccuino di traduzione.)

Addendum. The comments contain an interesting query about the Kentucky dialect verb “gom” and possible etymologies.


  1. Came across your site the other day from “I don’t remember where”, but am enjoying the read. While certainly no “professional” with the English language, languages, themselves, have always been an interesting subject for me. The Navy put me through what was considered a college course for both Russian and what was then termed Serbo-Croatian over thirty years ago, but such span of time with no utilization thereof has left me with little ability in either……
    My wife and I are native Kentuckians and I’m wondering about a term she surfaced with awhile back from the southern part of the state that was unfamiliar to me. She spoke of kids “gomming” and interpreted it to me as “making a mess”. Whether the term is just a local use or not, I do not know. I note no information on your site giving indication as to where you live and don’t know if you’re interested in such triviality……..

  2. Hey, Jim, welcome to LH! I’m interested in anything having to do with language, but I’m afraid I can’t help you with “gom”; you should try the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), which I don’t have (you’ll want Volume II, D-H). And let me know what you come up with! If I find myself around a copy, I’ll check myself. (And of course if any LH readers are familiar with the word, please chime in!)
    Oh, and I live in NYC.

  3. jean pierre says

    Haven’t ever come across “gommed,” but it seems that the meaning your wife ascribed to it comes very close to the use of “gormed” in one of Charles Dickens’ novels, by the old fisherman Mr. Peggoty, as paraphrased by David Copperfield’s faithful maid, when she describes her brother’s kindness in adopting Ham and Emily:
    “The only subject, she informed me, on which he ever showed a violent temper or swore an oath, was this generosity of his; and if it were ever referred to, by any one of them, he struck the table a heavy blow with his right hand…and swore a dreadful oath that he would be ‘Gormed’ if he didn’t cut and run for good, if it was ever mentioned again. It appeared, in answer to my inquiries, that nobody had the least idea of the etymology of this terrible verb passive to be gormed; but that they all regarded it as constituting a most solemn imprecation.” (David Copperfield, Ch.3, “I have a change”)
    A tentative search in Google found another instance of the use of “gormed” in Jeffrey Farnol’s “The Broad Highway:”
    “Lord love me!” said the Postilion, combing his hair so very hard that it wrinkled his brow. “I comes up from Tonbridge this ‘ere very afternoon, an’, ‘avin’ drunk a pint over at ‘The Bull’ yonder, an’ axed questions as none o’ they chawbacons could give a answer to, I ‘ears the chink o’ your ‘ammer, an’ comin’ over ‘ere, chance like, I finds–you; I’ll be gormed if it ain’t a’most onnat’ral!”
    “And why?”
    “‘Cos you was the very i-dentical chap as I come up from Tonbridge to find.”
    Would it be an odd coincidence, or are the verb expressions related?

  4. Well, the verb you quote is cited by the OED thus:
    A vulgar substitute for ‘(God) damn’.
    1849 DICKENS Dav. Copp. xxi. 220 Gorm the t’other one. 1850 Ibid. lxiii. 618 If a ship’s cook.. didn’t make offers fur to marry Missis Gummidge, I’m gormed. 1883 Punch 19 May 230/2 I’m gormed if there was more than six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. 1905 E. PHILLPOTTS Secret Woman I. iv, An’ coming for to count ’em.. be gormed if I didn’t find but three! 1907 Daily Chron. 9 Mar. 8/5 ‘Well, I’m gawmed!’ exclaimed Mr. Bungard, unable to suppress his surprise. 1910 J. FARNOL Broad Highway II. xviii, I’ll be gormed if it ain’t a’most onnat’ral!
    I don’t think this can be related to our Kentuckian prey. But in the course of investigating it I ran across these two verbs, either of which could be the source:
    gaum, v.1
    trans. To handle, esp. in some improper fashion.
    1656 R. FLETCHER Martial etc. 230 Each Lad took his Lass by the fist, And when he had squeez’d her, and gaum’d her untill The fat of her face ran down like a mill He [etc.]. 1674-91 RAY N.C. Words, Goam, to grasp, or clasp. a1700 B. E. Dict. Cant. Crew, Gaum, see Paume [= to palm (a die, etc.)]. 1738 SWIFT Pol. Convers. ii. Wks. (ed. Faulkner, Dublin) VI. 331 Don’t be mauming and gauming a Body so. [Differently in other edd.] Can’t you keep your filthy Hands to your self? 1886 Chester Gloss., Gawm., to grasp in the hand. 1894 S.E. Worcs. Gloss., Gaum, to handle articles in a manner calculated to damage or mar their appearance.
    gaum, v.2
    trans. To smear with a sticky substance; to daub (something sticky) on a surface. Also with up.
    a1796 PEGGE Derbicisms II. (E.D.S.) 102 Gawm’d, smeared. 1824 LAMB Lett. (1888) II. 120 Hope it won’t clog his wings (gaum, we used to say at school). 1872 ‘MARK TWAIN’ Innoc. Abr. xx. 146 Those low savages.. mix the.. grease and ashes.. with tar, and ‘gaum’ it thick all over their heads. 1883 Athenæum No. 2885. 192 The greater part of the interior was gaumed with shellac in solution. 1962 Listener 1 Nov. 732/3, I have always hoped against hope that one day Mr. Bucknell would.. get gormed up in a glue-pot.
    Since the second was used by Twain, whereas the first doesn’t seem to have made it across the Atlantic, it would be the likelier candidate. So I thank you, and I hope Jim is still checking in!

  5. Holy cow — I grew up a stone’s throw (okay, well, an hour’s drive) from Kentucky, and I ain’t never heard that’n before!

  6. Thanks to all if anyone’s still around. I came back once or twice, detected nothing new at this spot, and then, in returning, ceased to go “deeper”. In response, I think your conclusions with the word “gawm” is closest to the intent they use here in Southern Kentucky…….

  7. In chapter eight of the BBC Irish Gaelic lessons, one learns that “gorm” is Irish Gaelic for “blue.” Could it be the case that the strongly Catholic Irish substituted the word for the color blue for damn, as in “I’ll be (the the color of a sick man)?”

  8. On reconsideration, once again, no — I’d go with the second meaning of “gaum” as used in Mark Twain. The Gaelic gorm may still apply in the examples in David Copperfield and The Broad Highway.

  9. Danny Stinnet says

    I’m from Lexington. Heart of the Bluegrass. We were always told not to gom up the house, etc. It’s also a noun…like if you look into a hole and it’s all wet and sticky or something…it could be said to be “full of gom.”

  10. Thanks. I love this thread!

  11. In Northern New England, gawm is a mistake.
    Ex. Sorry, my gawm.

  12. The posted link is dead (I’ve substituted an archived version), but the Macquarie Dictionary site has a nice Australian Word Map.

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