Posted by Pamela on March 06, 2006
In Reply to: What a wally posted by pamela on March 06, 2006
: : : Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "what a wally". I first heard it used by people returning from the IOW pop festival in 1971. Any idea why?
: : I've heard "wally" used as a dismissive term for anyone the speaker finds boring. It might come from the idea, true or not, that Wallace is a very conventional, old-fashioned name given to boys who became very conventional, old-fashioned men. (It's true that you don't meet many Wallaces anymore.) I don't know, though.
: "What a Wally!" is commonly used in Australia to mean "what an idiot!". There's a "don't waste water" ad campaign over here that's been running since the 1980's with the tagline "Don't be a Wally with water" (a moron called Wally does silly things throughout). The Clean Ocean group also hand out an annual "Water Wally award" to the worst "Water Wally". Using "Wally" to mean a fool, nitwit or drongo is certainy much older than this ad campaign, though. pamela
I should have checked the dictionary before I posted: wally. Slang. a stupid person [c20: shortened form of the given name Walter] (Collins Australian). So perhaps there was a famously stupid Walter?