Moomba is the name of a carnival held annually in Melbourne from 1955. One of its distinctive features is a procession of floats etc. through the streets of the city. The term is popularly regarded as being an Aboriginal word meaning 'let's get together and have fun'. Thus C. McGregor in Profile of Australia (1966) writes: Melbourne's Moomba (an aboriginal word meaning 'Let's get together and have fun') a yearly event during which floats parade through the city. In 1969 Louise Hercus in The Languages of Victoria sounded a warning: Mum, bottom, rump. The jocular Healesville expression mum ba 'bottom and..' has been given to the authorities in jest with the translation 'let us get together and have fun', hence the Melbourne Moomba Festival. Victorian Aboriginal languages with the word mum for 'bottom, anus' include Wuywurung and Wemba-wemba. In 1981 Barry Blake in his Australian Aboriginal Languages spelt out the etymology in more detail: Undoubtedly the most unfortunate choice of a proper name from Aboriginal sources was made in Melbourne when the city fathers chose to name the city's annual festival 'Moomba'. The name is supposed to mean 'Let's get together and have fun', though one wonders how anyone could be naive enough to believe that all this can be expressed in two syllables. In fact 'moom' (mum) means 'buttocks' or 'anus' in various Victorian languages and 'ba' is a suffix that can mean 'at', 'in' or 'on'. Presumably someone has tried to render 'up your bum' in the vernacular.

Australian idioms. 2014.

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