Antipodean Origins

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It is widely accepted in the United Kingdom that the appellation "Antipodean" may readily be applied to visitors from "the Antipodes" (New Zealand, Australia, and other parts of Australasia). It is used most frequently in jocular or pejorative senses, and less often in serious critical writing.

The term "Antipodean" is not widely used in "the Antipodes". Its use is symptomatic of a proprietary Anglo-centric approach to the language, yet the definition lends itself to wider use.

antipodes (-z) n. pl. place(s) diametrically opposite (to each other), esp. Australasia as region on opposite side of earth to Europe; (w. back-form. sing. antipode) exact opposite (of, to); hence –AL, -EAN, adjs. (French, or Late Latin from Greek antipodes having the feet opposite, pl. of ANTIpous a. (pous podos foot))

The pejorative sense of the word becomes a little clearer, then, with the implication that an "Antipodean" originates from "beneath the feet". Although most "Antipodeans" would be unaware of the etymology, there is good reason to resent being so described.

As with most language issues, however, the received meaning depends as much on context as range of vocabulary. By definition, someone from "the Antipodes" could describe someone from Europe as "Antipodean" just as accurately as someone from Europe would use the word in its accepted sense. Common users of the term in a pejorative sense would do well to note that it can be turned back on them!

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