lairy


lairy
Lairy is widely used in Australia to mean either `flashily dressed, showy' or `socially unacceptable'. Lairy is thought to have come into Australian English around the end of the nineteenth century from the British slang term leery, meaning `wide awake, knowing, sharp, streetwise'. The Australian National Dictionary records the first written use of the term as September 1898 when the Melbourne journal, Tocsin, described someone thus: Height, about 5' 6 1/2in.; style `lairy'. Shop made suit, tight fit and cheap. Flower in slouched hat, well over eyes... The precise spelling of lairy was not immediately apparent, and for many years the variants leary and leerywere common. These appear now to have faded away. Despite the uncertainty of its spelling, lairynonetheless quickly became a standard term in Australian English, and, from the early twentieth century, writers felt able to use it without the need for quotation marks. In 1907 for example C.W. Chandler wrote inDarkest Adelaide: Sitting on the seat with him was a nice specimen of the Australian larrikin. Not so leery, perhaps, as his prototypes of Melbourne and Sydney, but a choice specimen of his class nevertheless. The popularity of the adjective lairy quickly spawned a noun and a verb to match. The noun lair, meaning `one who displays vulgarity, esp. in dress or behaviour; a show-off; a larrikin' was in use by the 1920s as in C.E. Sayers, Jumping Double: A hit behind the ear from one of those back street lairs. And it remains in use today, often in the collocation mug lair, applied to someone supposed to be both stupid and vulgar, as in the description published in The Australian in August 1982 of a particular Carlton half-forward flanker as `a mug lair and a show pony.' The verb lair is most frequently used as a verb phrase in combination with up to mean `behave in the manner of a lair,' and has produced another adjectival use as in G. Savage, The House Tibet (1989): At Legal Aid I got landed with this callous bitch all laired up with these big shoulder pads and earrings like baby crocodiles. By the 1950s the verb had produced a new extended form, lairise, with an identical meaning. In 1960 for example the Northern Territory News commented: All they seem to think of these days is lairizing around in ten-gallon hats, flash, colored shirts, gabardine riding breeches and polished riding boots chasing a bit of fluff. And in 1987 The Australian, in its description of a football match, said: Certain players... instead of doing the percentage things... turned it into a bit of show-off time and started lairising.

Australian idioms. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • lairy — adjective a) vulgar and flashy Dont get lairy with me! b) touchy, aggressive or confrontational, usually while drunk Theres always been a weird duality at the heart of New Order …   Wiktionary

  • lairy — UK [ˈleərɪ] / US [ˈlerɪ] adjective Word forms lairy : adjective lairy comparative lairier superlative lairiest British very informal bright or loud in an unpleasant way …   English dictionary

  • lairy — /lair ee/, adj., lairier, lairiest. Australian Informal. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a lair. [1905 10; appar. to be identified with Brit., esp. Cockney slang lairy cunning, knowing, conceited, resp. (repr. dial. pron.) of LEERY1] * *… …   Universalium

  • Lairy — 1. flashy; exhibitionistic; 2. vulgar (from Cockney slang lairy wise, knowing, awake up) …   Dictionary of Australian slang

  • lairy — Australian Slang 1. flashy; exhibitionistic; 2. vulgar (from Cockney slang lairy wise, knowing, awake up) …   English dialects glossary

  • lairy — lai|ry [ˈleəri US ˈleri] adj BrE informal [Date: 1800 1900; Origin: leery doubtful, suspicious (18 20 centuries)] behaving in a way that is very loud, or with too much confidence ▪ He s a bit lairy, your friend Mick …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • lairy — adj a. flashy, showy, especially in an ostentatious, provocative or vulgar way. This term is especially popular in Australia but was also in use among British youth from the late 1980s. ► Wow, Ches s got a really lairy T shirt. (Recorded, youth,… …   Contemporary slang

  • lairy — • loud, brash. e.g.. He s a right lairy sod …   Londonisms dictionary

  • lairy — /lair ee/, adj., lairier, lairiest. Australian Informal. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a lair. [1905 10; appar. to be identified with Brit., esp. Cockney slang lairy cunning, knowing, conceited, resp. (repr. dial. pron.) of LEERY1] …   Useful english dictionary

  • lairy — adj. of or pertaining to a lair; conceited (British Slang) …   English contemporary dictionary


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