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
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 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