Skip to main content

Australia's Tony Abbott makes 'suppository of all wisdom' gaffe

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
August 12, 2013 -- Updated 1122 GMT (1922 HKT)
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during the Leaders Debate on August 11, 2013 in Canberra.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during the Leaders Debate on August 11, 2013 in Canberra.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "No one ... is the suppository of all wisdom," Tony Abbott says at an event
  • "There was an audible gasp," a reporter at the event says
  • The hashtag #suppository starts trending on Twitter in Australia
  • Abbott is campaigning for national elections next month

(CNN) -- Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott set social media abuzz on Monday with a memorable slip of the tongue.

"No one -- however smart, however well-educated, however experienced -- is the suppository of all wisdom," Abbott told a Liberal Party event in the city of Melbourne.

A suppository is "a small piece of medicated substance, usually conical, ovoid, or cylindrical, introduced into a body passage, as the rectum or vagina, where body heat causes it to melt," according to Webster's New World College Dictionary.

Not quite the same as a repository (a place in which things may be placed for safekeeping), the word typically used in the expression "the repository of all wisdom."

Abbott's unwitting switch of the two words both shocked and amused his audience.

"There was an audible gasp in the room, a few people snickering," said Jonathan Swan, a political reporter for Fairfax Media who was at the event.

As news of Abbott's unfortunate utterance filtered out, social media users quickly seized on the gaffe. The hashtag #suppository began trending on Twitter in Australia.

And people couldn't resist exploiting the situation's comic and crude potential.

"Oh dear. Abbott - "we are not the 'suppository" of all wisdom.' Not sure where to stick this one," wrote Marcus Priest, a political reporter for the Australian Financial Review.

'I feel sorry for Abbott & his accidental use of the word suppository. Stop going on like he's the enema," quipped Felicity Reynolds, the head of a non-governmental organization in Sydney.

It's not the kind of coverage Abbott's aides will have been hoping for ahead of national elections next month. The night before, he had been engaged in a televised debate with his key opponent, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Labor.

As of Monday evening, Abbott hadn't joined in the Twitter flurry his malapropism had caused.

He's not the first Australian politician whose words have caused a stir on social media during this election campaign.

Stephanie Banister, a 27-year-old welder running for a seat in Rankin, Queensland, unleashed a series of blunders during an interview, including referring to Islam as a country.

Her comments went viral and on Saturday, she withdrew from the race, citing threats to her family.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT