ChatterBank1 min ago
Where does the term Pommie come from?
I heard its an acronym for Prisoners of Her Majesty (P.O.H.M) and is thus relating to Australians leaving the homeland and being set free from the Queen...
Or does it relate to the early English settlers who came to Australia as convicts and therefore actually refers to modern day Australians not the English?
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Pom/pommie/pommy are not acronyms, as many claim and as Mike points out above.. Nobody knows for sure what the etymology of �pom/my/mie' is, but neither The Oxford English Dictionary (TOED) nor the Australian National Dictionary (AND) even mentions the idea that it might have anything to do with prisoners or acronyms involving prisoners - eg from Prisoner of Mother England.
Here are a few key historical facts...a) 'Pommy' appeared nowhere in print before 1915 and b) �Pom' then appeared four years later. Both meant �a British soldier'. c) If �pommy/pom' had anything whatever to do with prisoners or acronyms, why did theses words not appear on paper anywhere until 130 years after Australia became a penal colony and about three generations after the last convicts were sent to New South Wales?
Both the OED and the AND say the source is obscure, but suggest �pommy' might be associated with 'pomegranate' - as Mike also said above - a concept first outlined in 1923, within a decade of the word's first appearance in print.
TOED claims this to be (quote): "the most widely-accepted" etymology, which makes sense for two reasons...a)pomegranate very roughly rhymes with 'immigrant' and hence, "immygran(i)t/pommygranate" was possibly a jokey catcall first used by schoolboys - and b) the pomegranate is a bright red fruit resembling the sunburnt skin of newcomers to Australia.
Unfortunately, neither TOED nor AND is available free online, but if you click here you will find a reliable web-page on the matter. It was produced by the noted etymologist/lexicographer, Michael Quinion. He, too, dismisses the acronymaniacs' ideas, so it is pretty clear - despite there being no total proof - that �pomegranate' is the way to go...Forget the convicts!
Given that Bill came from William and Will and that Peggy came from Margaret and Meggie, you're right, Spudqueen, Pommy could easily have come about as a slight modification of Tommy. The problem is that there is no evidence that it did so. All we do know, as I said above, is that when first recorded it meant a British soldier...ie a Tommy.
The one thing all linguistic experts seem to be agreed upon is that it has nothing whatever to do with acronyms or convicts. Yet, as we see right here in this thread, these absurd ideas just will not go away!
There are, for example, people around who believe that "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" or "Fornication Under Command of the King" are the acronymic source of our best-known four-letter word! "Posh", too, as Mike pointed out above, has been shown conclusively not to be an acronym, but that will seemingly never end the persistent belief that it is.
I suppose all one can do is go on pointing out the improbability or even impossibility of such notions.