Why is Australia called Oz?  Steve has taken to fondly referring to our new home as “Oz” whenever appropriate, and swears that “everyone calls it that…”  I see no emerald cities or munchkins frolicking about, so I’ve been wondering about the real etymology of the phrase.

The most common answer seems to be that it’s a byproduct of the Australian lingo.  The pronunciation of Australia comes out as “Ozz-stralia”, hence, Oz.  As one cheeky “Ozzie” observed, “it helps to spell it Oz so that people from overseas, usually Americans, might learn to say Aussie correctly” as many Americans say “Osssy” and not “the correct” “Ozzie”.  A 1990 The American Dialect Society article, “Australia as the Land of Oz” even debates the connections between and similarity of Australia with Frank Baum’s mythical land.

Winner for the most creative answer:  “When our convict ancestors were sent here to “No Mans Land” the convict asked the aborigine the name of the very large birds walking around but can’t fly and were told they are named “Ostrich”. As they were rejects from England they could not spell.  So at night in their 5-star accommodation they would email letters back to the “Old Dart” telling their family about the BIG birds and as they did not have a spelling checker in those days they simply would call the birds “OZ” … and since then people call Australia OZ.”