A Dictionary of Australian Words and Terms

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Captain Cook - referring to the explorer who discovered Sydney; "Take a Captain Cook" means to take a look. It can take some getting used to. Allegedly the only native skill was to put a bend in a banana.

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Also "fancy turns". Used to emphasise any point or story. Hence "bloody beauty" bewdy! Confusion between the two may lead to an embarrassing situation! If someone busting to know where the dunny is, tell 'em to "follow their nose to the thunderbox". Often used by itself as a rhetorical question to express astonishment verging on disbelief BYOG is "bring your own grog".

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Can be applied universally to all things social Never used to describe the other main alcoholic beverage at an Australian social occasion - beer. Also, to travel cross-country; to leave the city for the country; to leave one's usual surroundings. We not know bush. Book Two, Chapter 3. Called a monitor in other countries. The word is from an alteration of iguana.

More Australian Oxford Dictionaries

True to his word he was there—with a huge goanna, fat as a whale from gorging on dead cattle. An extension in usage of the standard English word, meaning rum or other spirits mixed with water.

A Dictionary of Australian Words and Terms

Book Two, Chapter 8. Before Australia switched to decimal currency, a note was slang for one pound. There was all colours there—black, white, brown, and brindle. Historically, the jackeroo was a young man with "good family connections", and often from England, working to gain experience that would be useful in a future career as station owner or manager, but employed on menial work and possibly paid very little. The character in No Sunlight Singing described as being of "that strange breed, the jackeroo" was presumably one of these young men from a different social background from the rest of the station hands.

During the Second World War, jilleroo came to be used for a female station hand. The origin of the word jackeroo is not known, though several theories have been put forward. Also written jackaroo. Well, Eric was a jackeroo here, been here a year or more, a good kid too, he was picking it up fast. Variant of the British dialect word jannock. The word is probably adapted from the U. Mixing up the parcel of weevily flour with a little water she made johnny-cakes which she dropped into the ashes to cook.

A broadening of the British term for a lollipop or iced lolly. Lolly water is sweet soft drink. Book One, Chapter 5. From a Tasmanian Aboriginal word. This is the one colloquialism for Aborigines that is used in the narrative of No Sunlight Singing , as well as in dialogue, so the author presumably felt it to be a neutral term, rather than a derogatory one.

However, many contemporary dictionaries flag lubra as offensive, so it would appear the term has now come to be widely regarded as unacceptable. In front of it squatted a middle-aged black man and two lubras, one fairly old, the other much younger. Book One, Chapter 1. Cosily built with bits of this and that, some old iron, some bags and sheets of bark, a mia-mia hugged the bank. Australian Oxford Dictionary.


The phrase has been used in various countries, but originated in Australia. Sidney J Baker, in The Australian Language 2nd edition, Sun Books, describes the invention of the milk bar as a means of reducing a milk glut during the Great Depression, and reports that the first one was perhaps opened in in Pitt Street, Sydney, by the Burt brothers. However the term had been used earlier. In , a "milk bar" at George Street Sydney advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald for a waitress 26 November , page 14 - discovered using the National Library of Australia's online newspaper archive. After the Second World War the term evolved, in some states of Australia, into a name for a neighbourhood shop selling general provisions, without any particular emphasis on milk products: what might elsewhere be called a corner store.

Also, a group of people sharing some characteristic, generally used in Australia without any disparagement. The Australian Oxford Dictionary also shows it as meaning the friends one usually associates with, which can be seen in the quote below about being "one of the mob". The word is also used for a flock or herd of animals. Mob is also used though not in No Sunlight Singing for a large quantity or number of anything. Book Three, Chapter 5. Originally British slang, from the phrase moral certainty. Now chiefly Australian.

The mulga acacia, Acacia Aneura with silver leaves , with other species of scrub tree. From the Yuwaalaraay language. A variation on the British usage as an expression of astonishment. Originally a newly arrived convict.

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Nancy suddenly remembered that she had scored a plug of nicki-nicki. So everyone lit up and soon mosquitoes for twenty yards around were flying for shelter. Originally a bullock-driver's assistant. Book Two, Chapter 5. Also, on the wallaby track.

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Also fizgig. Adapted from West Indian pidgin. Also used to mean tiny, as in the phrase used in No Sunlight Singing , piccaninny daylight , first light in the morning. Also used in casual speech for any alcoholic drink. The word originated in Australia, but is now widely used in Britain and elsewhere. Possibly derived from vin blanc. Also used figuratively, as in this example from No Sunlight Singing.

Derived from British slang, but now confined to Australian and New Zealand use. One time a family of regulars shot through just when there was work to be done. Often in the expression "that's the shot". With iron skillion roofs and white-washed hessian walls standing out stark and glaring against the lush green of the wet season, a scattering of various-sized huts squatted low along the hillside.

But what makes the difference, God only knows. They might have to sling to some head. Soon after sun-up, Johnny waved them to the ground. Book Three, Chapter 3. The word farm fails to do justice to the enormous size of some Australian cattle stations. A Government report from around the period when Book One of No Sunlight Singing is set the Payne and Fletcher Report, , accessed via the National Archives revealed that three pastoral companies owned 16 stations in the Northern Territory covering over 45, square miles in total , square kilometres, almost the size of Greece.

The word station is used in many phrases, such as station-born , in the second example. Their own native tongue was used much of the time, but some were station-born and not too glib in this Used against Aboriginal people in several passages in No Sunlight Singing. The coloured people burst into frantic movement as the stock-whips hissed and cracked among them.