Origin of POM


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The word POM is sometimes used by some Australians to define a British or English person.

Depending on “how” it is said, will determine if it is derogatory or not.

Question: Where did the term POM come from ?
Answer: No one actually knows for sure, although there are many theories.

In 1920, the author H J Rumsey, used the term Pommies’ his book “The Pommies, or New Chums in Australia

In 1923, the famous author, D H Lawrence used the term ‘Pommy’ in his book “Kangaroo“, ie:


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Pommy is supposed to be short for pomegranate. Pomegranate, pronounced invariably pommygranate, is a near enough rhyme to immigrant, in a naturally rhyming country. Furthermore, immigrants are known in their first months, before their blood ??thins down’, by their round and ruddy cheeks. So we are told ?

Some variations for it’s meaning have been given as:

  • POM is short for ‘Port of Melbourne’ where the first migrant ships docked.
  • POME an abbreviation of ‘Prisoner of Mother England’
  • POM an abbreviation for ‘Permit of Migration’
  • Pomeranian, a very “superior” sort of dog. Some new arrivals did give off a “superior than though” attitude.
  • Children’s playground taunts: “Jimmy Immigrant”, then changed to “Immigranite-Pomegranite”, which then slowly became “Pommy” then “Pom”.
  • “Pommes” the French word for apples, eaten by the English.
  • “Pommes de terre” the French term for potatoes, eaten by the English.

It could well be a combination of any of those options.

Question: What does the term POM mean today ?
Answer: It’s actual meaning will depend on the meaning given to it, on each occasion, by the person saying it.

Do not automatically assume it is derogatory, even if it is accompanied by the word ‘bastard’, as in Pommy Bastard. They have a different language here, it doesn’t always mean the same as the British English version.

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