here’s hoping for a totally Obama 2009


I was at a poetry slam a few weeks back and one of the random audience-selected judges, who was obviously a frustrated critic deep down, described one performance like this: “Well, I think I’ll give it a seven out of ten. It was okay you know, but it didn’t quite cut it: it was just a little bit too McCain for me.”

 And so, it seems, ‘urban definitions’ are finally making it into the Australian vernacular. An online contributor to Urban Dictionary has now included the term ‘Obama’ baby, to mean “A child conceived after Obama was proclaimed President by way of celebratory sex, or any baby born under Barack Obama’s term(s).”

 Other politically disillusioned word-smiths suggest:

Bush: Someone who cannot pronounce most words in the English language properly: Look at the grammar in this application letter! There’s no way I’m hiring this Bush. 

Bin Laden: a drastic wrongdoing: I can’t believe you cheated on me! That is so Bin Laden.

Palin: To tell an obvious lie: He’s trying to Palin me. He says he’s a millionaire but I saw him down at Centrelink. 

So, to honour this trend, here’s a few of my own suggestions:

Howard: Stubborn to the point of self-detriment, or to refuse to apologise: It would be so much easier to just do it by email, but my Boss won’t listen to me. He’s so Howard. 

Latham: To fail miserably then harbour a poisonous grudge: She reckons the show will be a flop. She’s gone all Latham because she didn’t get through the auditions.

Turnbull: An opportunist. To wait in the wings and watch everything fall apart, then swoop in at the last moment to save the day: His wife only just left him and that Turnbull’s already stepped in.

Pauline: an uneducated racist: He’s been barking on about all this immigration stuff. You wouldn’t know it, but he’s actually a bit Pauline. 

The interesting thing is that, because Urban Dictionary allows contributors to draft their own definitions rather than relying on popular opinion, contributors who differ in political opinion often draft contradictory definitions in the case of politics-related words. Only time will tell which, if any, meanings are adopted into widespread acceptance through their inclusion in ‘real’ dictionaries, but personally I think the overall concept of this urban short-hand is totally Obama.

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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  1. The Victorian one from a few years back was ‘Kennett’. If I felt a little less Kennett this morning, I would be able to think of a definition for Garrett — something along the lines of a person systematically trashing everything they once believed. But I don’t think I’m up to it right at the moment.

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