The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Orthodox? I Thought he was a Catholic.

So, Tony Abbott recently said that, in his opinion,  “the orthodox definition of marriage as between a man and… ah… a woman should continue…”.The punctuation in that previous sentence might look a little rocky, but it is very difficult to transliterate tortuous ‘aaaahhhhh’s and the weird, inappropriate pauses when he puts his “The Effort of Speaking is Causing Me to Have a Stroke” face on.

Anyway, this led me to wonder which “orthodox” definition he was referring to? Surely the OED is one of the most orthodox definitions for English speakers who are not American?

Oxford English Dictionary


  • 1the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife:she has three children from a previous marriage
  •  [mass noun] the state of being married:women want equality in marriage
  •  (in some jurisdictions) a union between partners of the same sex.
  • 2a combination or mixture of elements:her music is a marriage of funk, jazz, and hip hop

Hmmm. Perhaps he failed to read to the bottom? It is, after all, a lot of reading – something to which he is known to be averse. Or perhaps he believes the third point is similar to the example of musical fusion – an alternative usage, so to speak, and not orthodox at all.

Another alternative is that he has fallen victim to this worrying trend of Americanisation and was referencing Webster.


(1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage <same-sex marriage>

Well, no. The same sex bit is in the first section – the “executive summary” if you will. There’s no way even he could have missed that. So which definition is he referring to? Its definition under current Australian law? But this is not the “orthodox” definition. It is the “legal” definition. The definition, in fact, that is at issue and which is sufficiently disputed in this country as to be quite far from “orthodox” indeed.

So, when he uses the word “orthodox” one can only assume that he is using the word in the time honoured fashion of “Some Bloke at the Pub”, or the equally venerable “What That Means to Me is…”; such usage being the final arbiter of what is true and just amongst the stupid, the ignorant and the just plain bigoted.
Note: Some readers may note the absence of the Macquarie Dictionary, the official reference for Australian English. I had every intention of sourcing this venerable tome but as I have:
a) consistently found their habit of tersely paraphrasing words useless in terms of seeking an actual definition, and
b) a rooted objection to paying for such (the online service requires a subscription), their definition does not appear in this article.

Category: Asinine


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