Origin of the word "Pom" in Australian slang

Discussion in 'English Only' started by equivoque, Jan 26, 2007.

  1. equivoque Senior Member

    Queensland, Australia
    Australia - English
    Hi my friends, I have been given a somewhat suspect reason for the reason Australian's (et. al.) call people from Great Britain - "Poms".

    This was in relation to an acronym "prisoners of His Magesty" supposedly, Pomh. My research suggests that this slang term originated long after the convict (first settlement) of Australia. This has come up because today in Australia, is the 26th January - Australia Day.

    To my knowledge, this day is a celebration of the British first claim on the colony of New South Wales (Australia) Well, NO, we are now a Federated Country of six states and two territories.

    Can anyone give me any enlightenment on this.

    Hi again - and HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY

    There must be someone from Great Britain or and ex-pat that has researched this topic. I have seen so many references, I thought this would be the best resource I could access!

    This is not a a derogatory fish for the origin - My ancestry is Welsh, Scottish and Irish and my father lived his formative years in London. I'm genuinely interested.
  2. winklepicker

    winklepicker Senior Member

    English (UK)
  3. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Pom is a shortened form of Pommy.

    Some claim that pommy is a blend of immigrant and pomegranate, alluding to the red cheeks of English immigrants.

    Some claim it's a acronym for Prisoners of Mother England POME.
    I don't buy the acronym.

    The Macquarie Dictionary says "origin unknown".
  4. equivoque Senior Member

    Queensland, Australia
    Australia - English
    Thanks Brioche for replying to that. From my research it suggested that the word was not even used during the early convict days. It's a tricky one but the most believable I read was that it came from Pomegranete - but was a word play on the term immigrant. The British were given financial assistance to come to Aus - so they said (as a result of pomegrante) pommy-grant.

    My father's parents were migrants that got their transport paid for. Any other comments on this issue would be greatly appreciated.

    (particularly since we flogged the poms in the Ashes cricket) <---- there's a wink in there!
  5. difficult cuss Senior Member

    English England
    I was told that it originated from "pommes" the Fench for apples, or perhaps from "pommes de terre" which would be potatoes. As us Brits consume vast quantities of both these, it could be the case. (conjecture coming up...perhaps ships bound for Australia, from the UK, relied on these foods?). After all the Americans and Canadians refered to the British navy as "limeys" because Lime juice was their main source of vitamin c.
  6. winklepicker

    winklepicker Senior Member

    English (UK)
    To quote from my link (which clearly nobody is bothering to follow! :( )

    "It is now pretty well accepted that the pomegranate theory is close to the truth... the term is not especially old, dating from the end of the nineteenth century at the earliest, certainly not so far back as convict ship days.

    "Ten pound poms" qv.

    Ouch. weeping.gif

    "You all live in a convict colony, a convict colony, a convict colony..." - Barmy Army song
  7. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Very large numbers of the assisted immigrants to Australia were Irish, Scottish or Welsh, but Pommie or Pom refers only to English people, not British or immigrants in general.
  8. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I had always gone with the acronym theories but after cruising these forums for some time I have come to the conclusion that very few old words are acronyms.
    Very many Australian slang terms are rhyming slang and I like the logic of the visual aspect of pommegranate combined with the almost rhyming slang of immigrant.


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