Learning a new word: "munted"

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In the category of positive coronavirus effects, there's a new word I recently learned: munted. The OED gives two glosses:

1. New Zealand and (less commonly) Australian. Ruined, spoiled; damaged; (of a person) extremely tired, exhausted.

2. British, Australian, and New Zealand. Intoxicated by alcohol or drugs.

The Macquarie Dictionary of Australian English has

adjective Colloquial 1. (of a thing) broken beyond repair: this bike is munted.

2. (of a person) not performing or functioning well, as a result of exhaustion, intoxication, etc.

So how did the new coronavirus teach me this new word? A 3/13/2020 "Honest Government Ad" from @thejuicemedia in Australia has circulated widely on twitter:

And (excerpting and concatenating the relevant passages), the message includes this sequence:

Since I didn't know the word munted — though I could guess its meaning roughly from context — I looked it up. And now you know too!

I wonder, will 2.8 million views on Twitter and 4.3 million views on YouTube be enough to get munted into world-wide use?



  1. Philip Taylor said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 6:32 am

    Loved it (despite the coarse language) but why did I get the distinct feeling that the female on screen was not the one actually speaking the words ?

    [(myl) I thought the coarse language, contrasting with the formal style, was the best part.]

  2. Andrew Taylor said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 7:00 am

    If don't know if it's related, but "munter" is reasonably common in UK usage as an a rather offensive word for "an unattractive person, esp. a woman" (Chambers Dictionary, which doesn't give "munted", though I think I've heard it in the sense of "drunk").

  3. Philip Taylor said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 7:42 am

    Acting on a hunch, I asked Google to report on collocations of "kalide" and "munted", and once I had told it to discount any collocations of "kalide" and "mounted" it threw up this, which staggered me by its sheer length (630 synonyms for "drunk") !

  4. jin defang said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 9:00 am

    had never consciously heard "munted" before,but it surely sounds like something unpleasant. It's actually also a surname, though the only person I've known with it, an accounting professor, was a nice fellow whom I never saw drinking.

    one has to wonder about a culture (us) that has so many words for people who drink to excess.

  5. Vance Koven said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 9:03 am

    So "munted" is Australian for "knackered"?

  6. Chester Draws said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 10:09 am

    "Munter" is also NZ slang for an idiot. The sort of person who munts things.

    I haven't heard it used about unattractive women for quite a while now, but have in the past.

  7. Windowless MOnad said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 11:00 am

    I'm Australian, aged 64. The word is new to me.

  8. AntC said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 11:11 am

    'Munted' got a thorough airing in Christchurch, New Zealand to describe buildings after the 2010/2011 earthquakes. Sorry, I didn't know it wasn't in "world-wide use". I and most New Zealanders were using it several times a day for ~5 years.

    That there's still plenty of munted buildings around the city is testament to the indifference of the insurance industry and (now out of office) government.

  9. Chips Mackinolty said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 11:53 am

    Also great to see the use of the word "bog roll".

  10. Anne Cutler said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 2:07 pm

    I agree that it is very funny and this is partly due to the register mismatches. I also agree on all the other noted oddities: out-of-synch video/audio, archaic words [I'm an aging Aussie too and munted is new to me]. I would add that butt is generally not used down here, it's always arse, esp. preceding -hole*. The text sounds as if it has been deliberately composed with the aid of a cross-dialect dictionary of slang, and the accent sounds like a good US mimic trying for a British accent (trying for Aussie mostly = channeling Crocodile Dundee).
    [* The current chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, who has a distinguished career in journalism and editorial roles – i.e. I have known the name for decades – has the surname Buttrose. This made a visiting American colleague immediately gasp in horror/sympathy – but it had never struck me, and I've never heard any abusive play on the name.]

  11. Jim Breen said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 3:37 pm

    My wife and I are 72, and have spent almost all our lives in Australia. Neither of us had ever heard the word. I asked my 42yo daughter; she knew sense 1, but thought she picked it up in the UK.

  12. R. Fenwick said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 3:41 pm

    @Chips Mackinolty: an Australian friend of mine some years ago introduced me also to the occasional slang phrase "poo tickets".

  13. Chris Quyết said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 3:49 pm

    I read the etymology regards boer war soldiers returning with the local slur "munter", similar to nigger, for the Bamuntu tribe or something like that. Then it took on the meaning of something inferior or broken and hence "munted".

    Anyone else have any leads on this theory?

  14. Chris Quyết said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 3:54 pm

    Ah, so "Munt" and "munter" were indeed slurs in South Africa and Rhodesia, I can find sources on that. But I do remember reading it's first emrgence in NZ was on a television show that had a golliwog character referred as as such. I can no longer find a source on that.

  15. Mark P said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 4:03 pm

    The Wikipedia article about Juice Media notes that Australia has passed a law banning what they consider impersonating the government, apparently at least in part as a response to Juice Media’s “honest government ads”.

  16. Ted McClure said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 4:30 pm

    In the US I've heard the word "munged" (soft "g") meaning much the same thing as the first Macquarie Dictionary definition in the original post, mostly from computer and information technology people in the last five years or so. Anyone know where it came from? Is it related to or a corruption of "munted"? (As an aside, whatever is monitoring spelling in Firefox accepts "munged" but thinks "Macquarie" and "munted" are misspelled.)

  17. Julian said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 7:33 pm

    62yo Australian here. First heard 'munted' from a colourful-speaking tour guide in NZ last year. His other favourite was 'narly', also new to me, which could apply to anything from the weather to a book.
    For me 'munged' is pretty well restricted to metal things. Getting munged is what happens to the slot in a screw when the screwdriver slips, or the thread of a bolt if you grip it too hard with pliers.

  18. David Morris said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 8:02 pm

    I was aware of munted somehow, but I've never used it and don't expect to.

    Narly or gnarly?

  19. Michael Watts said,

    March 21, 2020 @ 10:35 pm

    why did I get the distinct feeling that the female on screen was not the one actually speaking the words ?

    I also got this feeling (admittedly, I was primed by your comment). Is the audio improperly synched to the video?

  20. AntC said,

    March 22, 2020 @ 12:03 am

    @Julian, that's spelled 'gnarly'. "knotted and rugged", picked up as surfers' slang 1970's, according to etymonline.

    I'm pretty sure the surfers' slang sense would come from Aus.

    I'm a Brit who only moved to NZ ~1995. I've heard all these terms, and 'munted' I'm pretty sure got here via Australia — so say the NZ'ers I learnt it from. I'm astonished the number of Aussies on this thread who don't know their own language. It's as though the inventiveness of Dame Edna/Barrie Humphries/Barry Mckenzie, John Clark (of Farnarkling fame), Steve Irwen moved in a parallel universe.

    'Munged' I heard as IT slang in Britain in the 1970's. To transform or corrupt data, often beyond recognition or recovery. [Hackers Dictionary] Also echoed in the name of the 'esoteric' programming language Befunge.

  21. John Rice-Whetton said,

    March 22, 2020 @ 12:16 am

    As a 28yo Australian I'm quite familiar with the word, mainly in the sense of being extremely intoxicated. People also use 'munt' as a verb meaning to vomit as a result of excessive intoxication, and with this comes 'munt' as a noun to refer to vomit.

  22. Philip Taylor said,

    March 22, 2020 @ 4:15 am

    Isn't "mung" one of those awful in-jokes of which geeks are so fond : "Mung Until No Good" ? Along the lines of "Gnu [is] Not Unix", and so on.

  23. Alison said,

    March 22, 2020 @ 6:16 am

    I lived in Australia for about 10 years through the 90s and 00s and "munted" was commonly used in my circles to mean intoxicated. It was also used to describe broken down cars/computers/phones etc.

    One Aussie slang for being high which I'm not sure survived the 00s was "chopped".

  24. Trogluddite said,

    March 22, 2020 @ 7:26 am

    Regarding comments about the poor audio synchronisation…

    If you look out for it, this is very common in many video/film media, particularly advertisements; though usually a lot of effort would be expended to make it far less noticeable (and even dedicated computer software for this purpose).

    It's common practice, even in feature films, to record the audio separately from the images, as it's the easiest way to work around problems with intrusive background sounds in the studio, poor acoustics, and/or difficulties with microphone placement. If you listen carefully to the audio, there are also many places where it's possible to hear clumsy editing together of separate snippets of audio.

    The particularly poor synchronisation in the video may well just be the result of haste; though I suspect that there may also be an element of parodying the uncanny sense of artificiality that the technique can often produce (likewise the exaggerated mannerisms, facial expressions, and mouth movements of the presenter).

    [(myl) For more on the topic, see Wikipedia on "Audio-to-video synchonization", or this TechSmith tutorial.]

  25. cameron said,

    March 22, 2020 @ 11:15 am

    "gnarly", in the surfer slang sense, was pretty common as a feature of Southern California slang by the late 70s. So, while it could be originally Australian, I'd guess it's more likely of California origin. It was definitely surfer slang in California.

  26. Graeme said,

    March 22, 2020 @ 11:32 pm

    53 yo Australian, used to intoxication. Can't recall ever hearing 'munted' Wonder if it jumped the ditch recently? Wife has heard it recently, 18 yo too. Not 15 yo.

    Mark P. That law was passed in response to a dodgy 2016 Labor Party SMS campaign. Voters received texts that looked like they came from Medicare – the single payer health system – saying the system was under conservative threat.
    The intent rule means the law excludes satire so the Wikipedia claim is itself almost satirical! The National Symbols Officer does have old powers over uses of coats of arms etc. But he was trying it on – the distortion is obvious and protected as constitutional political communication.

  27. Meg Wilson said,

    March 23, 2020 @ 3:05 am

    Cameron, I was going to say exactly that: gnarly, So. Cal., late '70's. It was common to the point of over-use among non-surfer teens, sometimes spoken parodying the vocal mannerisms of surfers.

  28. Danni said,

    March 23, 2020 @ 10:14 am

    New word on urban dictionary today: Covidiot

  29. Howard said,

    March 24, 2020 @ 8:34 pm

    I lived in NZ for 30 years. Munted was a common term for broken, probably beyond easy repair. A colloquial, not a learned, term but with no salacious meaning. A bit like knackered. Only the surfers said gnarly, probably from watching Baywatch.

  30. ktschwarz said,

    March 25, 2020 @ 2:11 am

    Yes, "munged" in the computer sense goes back several decades. Mark Liberman picked it up as a student at MIT and has used it on Language Log a couple of times, provoking commenters to discuss its origin and meaning: see posts from 2011 and 2014. And "Mung Until No Good" is a backronym.

  31. Jack said,

    March 26, 2020 @ 9:11 am

    I'm a New Zealander. However, this word is completely new to me. Never heard this before.

  32. David Meiklejohn said,

    April 1, 2020 @ 2:40 am

    Re: Phil Taylor's question about whether the actress is saying the words.

    She pre-records the script and then says it again when being filmed, if that makes sense.

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