spangles drongo again

Subject: spangles drongo again
From: David McDonald <>
Date: Tue, 05 Jan 2010 09:43:17 +1100
The Australian National Dictionary advises at :
Transf. use of  drongo the name of a bird. Perh. infl. by its earlier use as the name of a racehorse (running between 1923 and 1925): see quots. 1924 and 1946.] A fool or simpleton, a ‘no-hoper’ (orig. of a Royal Australian Air Force recruit). Also drong and attrib.

[1924  Argus (Melbourne) 1 Nov. 24/5 Drongo is sure to be a very hard horse to beat. He is improving with every run.] 1941  Somers Sun 2 July 2 When you are called Drongo, ignore it. 1942 A.J. McIntyre Putting over Burst 3 I’m just a flamin’ drongo, Just a lowdown useless wart. 1944  Barging About: Organ 43 Austral. Landing Craft Co. 1 Sept. 6 All the tribes of Oz did gather together, even the tribes of … Drongoes, Dopes and Dills. 1946  Salt (Melbourne) 8 Apr. 22 Drongo was the name of a horse who failed to win a race. … The horse retired in 1925 and after that anybody or anything slow or clumsy became a Drongo. 1952 P. Pinney Road in Wilderness 72 Only thing you drongoes can think of is beer, beer, beer, and a sheila on the side. 1960 N. Cato Green grows Vine 46 ‘What a drongo,’ said Mitch. ‘Dron-go?’ said Maria. ‘A dill—a no-hoper.’ 1966 D. Niland Pairs & Loners 135, I didn’t waste time like some drongo salesman who can’t tell when the customer really means no. 1968 G. Mill Nobody dies but Me 14 It's very likely we’re the cleanest bunch of drongs in the entire R-bloody-double-A.F. 1973 H. Williams My Love 89 He said it was a job for drongoes, rubbing down cars one after another. 1981 P. Radley Jack Rivers & Me 25 ‘What's a bodgie, Connie?’ ‘A drongo who's younger than a grub but thinks he's old enough to have a widgie.’
The Oxford English Dictionary 2nd edn 1989 (online) isn't so sure about the racehorse bit:
3. A simpleton, a stupid person; see also quot. 1942. Hence as adj., silly, foolish. Austral. slang.
  The statement in quot. 1966 is highly speculative.
1942 A. G. MITCHELL in Southerly Apr., Drongo, an R.A.A.F. recruit. 1945 BAKER Austral. Lang. vi. 130 Drongo and sonky, mean silly or foolish. Ibid. viii. 156 Drongo, second-rate, worthless. Ibid. 160 Drongo, a raw recruit. 1953 R. BRADDON in I. Bevan Sunburnt Country 130 Drongo: No-hoper: Galah, all these are derogatory terms. They imply stupidity in the person at whom the word is flung. 1957 J. CLEARY Green Helmet 19 You're just a bloody drongo who doesn't know any better. 1960 S. H. COURTIER Gently dust Corpse xii. 177 Damn what you thought!.. I never realized you were such an unmitigated drongo. 1966 BAKER Austral. Lang. (ed. 2) vi. 135 Its popular zoological name has only the remotest link with the use of drongo to denote a slow-witted or stupid person. That application seems to have come from the use of Drongo as the name of a horse..[which] won a certain claim to fame by consistently finishing last or near last. 1968 K. WEATHERLY Roo Shooter 130 If we don't get her some dingo will, or some drongo of a holiday-shooter will murder her. 1969 Advertiser (Adelaide) 12 May 5/4 You Aussie coves are just a bunch of drongoes.
Cheers - David

On 5/01/2010 8:53 AM, Margaret Leggoe wrote:
Does anyone know how the word "drongo" came to be used to describe a stupid
person?  Ditto "galah" and "birdbrain".  
Margaret L

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