- In some regions of Australia butcher is a name for a measure of beer or the glass holding it. The first use of butcher recorded in The Australian National Dictionary is in the 1889 W.R. Thomas publication, Early Days: Over a good fat `butcher' of beer he told me how he was getting on. Almost a century later, in 1984, butcher is still in use, as in B. Driscoll's, Great Aussie Beer Book: The South Australian six ounce... has Australia's oddest glass name, a butcher. Despite this long currency there has been some disagreement about just how big a butcher is. Some writers suggest it is a large measure, for example M. Vivienne in, Sunny South Australia (1908): He gives away a good few of what they call `butchers of beer', which is a long, wide glass holding more than a pint. Other, more recent, commentators say it is a small one, so J. O'Grady in It's Your Shout Mate! (1972): A... six-ounce glass became the butcher. In fact, since metric standardisation was applied to Australian beer measures, a butcher is the South Australian name for a 170 ml. glass. There are a few competing theories concerning the origin of butcher. One of the more popular contenders is described by S. Hope in, Digger's Paradise (1956): And what is called a 'lady's waist' in some parts of the country is generally known as a 'butcher'. This originated in bygone days when workers from the abattoirs came unwashed to the pubs after their day's toil. A proportion of drinking mugs was kept separate for them, and a mob of slaughtermen would announce themselves as 'butchers' and be given those mugs. More plausible, however, is the theory that butcher came into Australian English from the German word Becher, a glass or tumbler. Added weight is given to this theory when it is realised that butcher is well known in South Australia but is little used outside that State. South Australia of course has a strong German component in its heritage, with many German immigrants - religious dissenters and agricultural workers - settling around Hahndorf and Kapunda from the late 1830s. The editor of The Australian National Dictionary, W.S. Ramson, thought that the German word was the most likely origin for butcher.
Australian idioms. 2014.