Last modified on 25 May 2011, at 04:15

Appendix:Australian English dated vocabulary

Many distinctive Australian words have been driven to or near to extinction in recent decades under the homogenising influence of mass media and imported culture, because of changes in fashion, or have fallen into disuse as society changes. Those who like or use these words regret their passing but informal vocabulary is by nature ephemeral. Others who use these words do so ironically.

Some examples:

  • around the traps – around one's usual haunts. Formerly quite common, but now declining. It was famously used by ARL boss Ken Arthurson when news of a Super league was emerging in Rugby League during the 90's, "Word around the traps".
  • Bodgie – a male member of a 1950s rock 'n' roll subculture, somewhat similar to the US greasers and British rockers. Now only historical.
  • bonzer – excellent (almost extinct). Probably from the Spanish word bonanza, by way of American English. Also spelt bonza.
  • cobber – friend, mate, "G'day, cobber". Not frequently used.
  • cooee! – a shouted greeting or long-distance contact call, used as when searching for a lost person, esp. in the bush. Also in the colloquial phrase "not within cooee", meaning "a long way off". Used in conversation to recapture the attention of someone you were talking to. "Cooeee Brian, are you listening?" Once ubiquitous, now becoming less common.
  • traps, trappers or jacks – police. These Australianisms have been largely replaced by the international cops, coppers, pigs or bacon. However the older, more affectionate wallopers is also still used.
  • drongo – an idiot (usage in decline). Either referring to the drongo bird which have extravagantly flared tails and cavort noisily in groups as part of their mating habits, but also, possibly an indirect derivation, from the name of a remarkably unsuccessful racehorse.
  • furphy – a lie or rumour. Furphy was the supplier of water carts to the Australian Army in World War I. Much like modern day water coolers, the carts became meeting points and rumour mills.
  • galah – a fool (survives, but in decline), from the bird. Almost always used in combination with 'bloody'. "You bloody galah!" (You bloody idiot!) This word has been used in commercials against drunk driving; "Don't be a galah!".Alf Stewart
  • map of Tassie – Female pubic hair. Tassie being short for Tasmania and used for the general similarity in shape of the map to this part of the anatomy. First appears in the 1980s. Not in common usage, but stable.
  • Mollydooker – a left handed person.
  • Nasho – adjective and noun, pertaining to National Service or conscription for military service esp. in 1960s.
  • Sharpie – member of a 1960s and 1970s teenage subculture. Probably from "sharply dressed" and/or a reference to the use of knives.
  • struth! (sometimes spelt strewth) – expression of shock or dismay (replaced by stronger expletives such as "fuck!" or "shit!"). Possibly of Shakespearean origin, "God's Truth". Also used in Britain. Other older expletives of English origin such as "cripes", "my oath" and "blimey" are also dying out.
  • warrigal – a dingo, or any wild thing.
  • Widgie – female Bodgie (see above).
  • wowser – a killjoy or puritan. Still used but in decline.