Australian Story

The History Of Australian Slang

Written by Dave Peterson

The History Of Australian Slang

“Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work”, said Carl Sandburg. The slang of every country is quite a reflection of their culture. How people use the words, how they play with words, says a lot about them.

The heaven down under also has its own way of playing with words. Australia has a rich slang, the Australian English that shares a close identification with the British English, though there are a few differences.
It wouldn’t be wrong if we say that the Australian slang is somewhat a reflection of the history of the country. A few of its words are derived from the Aboriginal language, for instance, ‘corroboree’, ‘didgeridoo‘ and ‘boomerang’. The words like gold rushes and bush ranging say a lot about the history of Australia.

The History Of Australian Slang

The vocabulary of Australia is an amalgamation of many other vocabs. The rich vocabulary features words from different dialects of British English, Gaelic languages, Polynesian languages and Indigenous Australian languages.
Karl Lentzner’s Dictionary of the Slang-English of Australia and of Some Mixed Languages was the first dictionaries of Australian slang which was released in the year 1892.

A very interesting fact about Australian slang is that, the words have nick names. The Australians have a way of shortening the long words and using them in their day to day slang. For instance, “Afternoon” is “arvo , “Swimming trunks” is “swimmers”, “Journalist” is “journo”, “Sunglasses” is “sunnies”, “Mosquito” is “mozzie”, “Postman” is “postie and there are many more to mention. It would take me forever if I mention them all.

Another very interesting fact that many of you aren’t aware of is that, the word “Selfie” that acquired a position in the Oxford Dictionary in 2013, has its root in Australia. The credit goes to Nathan Hope and Australian who posted this word on an online forum with a picture of his lips. The popularity of this world today is well known.

The Australian slang is not just limited to Australia, it has been influencing the English language from many decades. It is evident by the fact that many Australian English words are getting updated in the Oxford’s Online Dictionary.

The History Of Australian Slang

Some Words Of Australian Origin-

Digger- An Australian soldier

Outback- Sparsley populated, remote area

Jackaroo- An agricultural worker

Fair go-

A fair deal

Yobo-

An obnoxious and a loud person with no social and behavioral skills

Some Words of Irish and British Origin-

The word Sheila is an Australian slang for woman. It is derived from the name of Irish Girls’.

Creek, a small river is Australia, is a watercourse that flows into the sea, in England.

Billy is a cooking pot made of enamel or tin with lid and wire handle .It is usually used outdoors for making tea. The word has Scottish origin, where billy means ‘cooking utensil’.

Cool Aussie Slang-

It cost big bikkies, meaning it was expensive

Rapt as a dunny roll, meaning very happy

Let’s have a Captain Cook, meaning let’s have a look

Mad as a cut snake, meaning very angry

Flat out like a lizard drinking, meaning busy

Australian slang is, what I call “cool” and is gaining momentum worldwide, but the best part is that, it is still rooted to its history.

About the author

Dave Peterson

Dave Peterson
Passion for adventure and sharing his life long journey with as many others as possible.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." HENRY S. HASKINS

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