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There's a word people around me used to use a lot, phonetically it would spell 'stercus' or 'stircus', I think.

It was used in a context meaning excitable, frenzied, frenetic, that kind of thing. Like, you could say that:

Kids who eat lots of sugar tend to go stercus.

I don't know if it's an actual word and I can't find it because I'm butchering the spelling or misremembering how it was said. I'm a native speaker from Australia, if that helps.

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    "Starkers", maybe? short for stark, raving mad. (But I'm American so I'm just guessing what it could mean in Australian)
    – The Photon
    May 4, 2023 at 16:04
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    How about "stir-crazy"? May 4, 2023 at 16:38
  • @ThePhoton That's the answer.
    – Greybeard
    May 4, 2023 at 16:56
  • How about "boisterous" (noisy, energetic, and rough) ?
    – Graffito
    May 4, 2023 at 18:14
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    @ThePhoton Please post your comment as an answer. It is clearly correct. Answers go in the answer box.
    – Anton
    May 4, 2023 at 20:50

5 Answers 5

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I'm not Australian, but I suspect the word is "starkers", a short form for "stark, raving mad".

Although several online dictionaries give the definition "naked" or "completely naked" (i.e. a short form for "stark naked"), Oxford Languages (accessed through a google search for "starkers definition") gives as a second definition:

  1. mad; crazy.

"his lifestyle would drive me starkers"

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OP here, thanks for all your suggestions.

I called my mother, who is a frequent user of the word. She said it's slang that's been used by her extended family for ages. She believes it to be pretty niche slang, potentially regional.

It's not starkers (although a good guess) but essentially, as Weather Vane said, a derivation of 'stir-crazy', meaning the same thing, but just slangified. As I said above, the best synonym would be frenetic, and used in the context of someone being high energy, hyperactive, etc.

Always interesting to explore the extent that Australians will attempt to turn everything into slang. Would love to hear if anyone else, especially from QLD, has heard it used.

So, to answer my own question, what I was looking for doesn't exist, at least in established English - it's just slang, pronounced "stir-cuss"

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  • So if "it's not starkers", what is it??
    – AakashM
    May 5, 2023 at 8:47
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    @AakashM It's a slang form of stir crazy. Stir crazy > stircrazy > stirckers. May 5, 2023 at 12:03
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    I grew up in Melbourne, have lived in Perth and Adelaide. Haven't heard stirkers before. When I saw your question, stir crazy was my first thought, but if somebody had said it out loud I'm not sure I would've known immediately what they meant! May 5, 2023 at 12:05
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    @BugCatcherNakata, furthermore, "stir crazy" specifically means going crazy due to being confined or due to boredom. It doesn't (in its literal meaning) apply to going crazy from eating too much sugar...of course that doesn't keep people from using it for whatever they want, but it's an unlikely guess if you don't know the actual usage.
    – The Photon
    May 5, 2023 at 15:43
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    Your mom denied it was "starkers"? May 7, 2023 at 3:38
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What about "berserk"?

Berserk (Merriam-Webster): frenzied, crazed — usually used in the phrase "go berserk".

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I think you're looking for hysterical. Cambridge defines it in this sense as:

unable to control your feelings or behaviour because you are extremely frightened, angry, excited, etc.

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    thanks for the answer, but I don't think that's quite it - hysterical has pretty negative connotations, whereas we would use 'stercus' more in the context of crazy, restless, etc. More like nervous excitement.
    – Fin
    May 4, 2023 at 16:36
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    It's not uncommon to use it to refer to children acting wild.
    – Barmar
    May 4, 2023 at 19:44
  • @Barmar, it's also not uncommon to use it to refer to the parents of children acting wild.
    – The Photon
    May 5, 2023 at 22:08
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    @ThePhoton But be careful using it when referring to Mom, you may be accused of being a misogynist.
    – Barmar
    May 5, 2023 at 22:09
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    @Barmar This is, unfortunately, a very common misconception. In the ancient world, yes, the term was used to describe a malady thought to originate in the uterus, hence its etymology. In the 1700s, though, it was redefined to describe a condition known to affect people of both genders; at that time it was already believed to originate in the brain, not in the female reproductive system.
    – alphabet
    May 5, 2023 at 22:47
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It is, as already answered, 'starkers'. I've always known it as 'stark staring bonkers', but that may be a regional thing. Depends also on the accent it's spoken in, so Aussi would allow for a tentative spelling thereof.

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