Origins of the Word Anzac

The following is an excerpt from the Anzac Day Media Style Guide – Centenary Edition


Anzac is an acronym, a protected word and the subject of ongoing debate. It began as an acronym, devised by Major General William Birdwood’s staff in Cairo early in 1915, and was to be used by signalmen referring to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Sir William Birdwood (take care with the overused nickname ‘Birdie’) led the Corps during the Gallipoli campaign.

The word ‘Anzac’ quickly came into common use. The men who landed at Gallipoli became known as Anzacs. Veterans of the campaign were later issued a brass letter ‘A’, sewn onto the colour patch of their unit.

The landing beach on the Gallipoli peninsula used by the Australians and New Zealanders became known as Anzac Cove. The geographic position held by Australian and New Zealand forces, from the beach to the heights, was also called Anzac.

In 1921, a law was passed in Australia to protect ‘Anzac’ as a word. The Protection of Word ‘Anzac’ Regulations refer to both ANZAC and Anzac, using upper and lower case letters. Similar Acts have been passed in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Notably, some Australian parents have named their children ‘Anzac’: in some Indigenous Australian families the name is passed down from father to son. Although permission is required to use the word in names of streets, roads or parks, this restriction does not apply to people.

Under the regulations, using the word in Anzac Day coverage is permitted. Using Anzac/ANZAC for promotional or advertising purposes unrelated to Anzac Day may require permission from the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

For useful information about the history and usage of the word, visit the official Anzac Centenary website.

Download the Regulations here