Ankle-biter, also known as a little kid, a young child, a rug rat, small, aggressive dog and so on. The slang term ankle-biter is used in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Its first recorded use was preported to be in the mid-19th century, around September 1850 however it has also been reported its first use was in 1840. Some say it emerged in the 1950’s as it does seem to have a more modern tone to it. It seems that the term disappeared for around 100 years and it was debated whether the phrase was a one-off use in 1850.
The term ankle-biter has a few different meanings depending on the context of its use. In kiwi slang it is mainly used for a toddler or a small dog as these two are low down to the ground so they can reach your ankles. This phrase is also used in investment circles, ankle-biters are investments that are classed as volatile and thinly traded.
An ankle-biter can be something or someone that bites at your ankles like a dog to a postman, a sandfly to a hiker or a toddler to their parent. In conversation kiwis will sometimes refer to their children or someone elses kids as ankle-biters. They may say, ”Hi Mary, how is Mike and the ankle-biters?” Or, ”What are you doing with the ankle-biters this weekend?”
There are other slang words that kiwis also use that are similar to ankle-biters like nipper, small fry, youngster, tike and tiddler.
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