Oz Words: Bludger
BEGINNING AS London criminal slang from ‘bludgeoner’ (recorded from 1856), bludger meant a pimp who bludgeons (beats with a stick) prostitutes’ clients to rob them. Bludger faded from use in London, but made its way to the Australian colony, where it’s recorded from 1882. By 1900 it had become a general term of abuse, especially for a lazy loafer. About the same time, the back formation ‘bludge’ arose, meaning ‘to evade one’s own responsibilities and impose on others’ and which is now also a blue-collar worker’s term for anyone who sits comfortably behind a desk. The Americans and others have since borrowed it— but this is our word.
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