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A fanciful depiction of a bunyip (1890)


From Wathaurong ban-yib.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbʌnjɪp/
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bunyip (plural bunyips)

  1. (Australia) A mythical Australian monster, said to inhabit swamps and lagoons.
    • 2007, Janet Parker, Julie Stanton (editors), Mythology: Myths, Legends and Fantasies, page 387,
      The bunyip here was considered to have a magical power over humans, causing them considerable misfortune. Places where there were many eels tended to be where bunyips lived, as this was their food. On one occasion, Aboriginal people claimed that a bunyip lured a woman to her death by distracting her with a large catch of eels. It was considered extremely bad luck to kill or injure a bunyip.
    • 2008, Oliver Ho, Mysteries Unwrapped: Mutants & Monsters[1], page 26:
      According to the stories, the Bunyip comes in many different shapes and sizes—some are covered in feathers, while others have scales like a crocodile. Most Aboriginal drawings show the Bunyip with a tail like a horse, and flippers and tusks like a walrus.
    • 2009, David D. Gilmore, Monsters: Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts, and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors[2], page 150:
      One particularly fierce bunyip described by Smith was well known as a man-eater throughout south Australia.
  2. (Australia, slang, obsolete) An imposter or con-man.

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See alsoEdit


  • Dixon, R. M. W., Bruce Moore, W. S. Ramson, Mandy Thomas (2006) Australian Aboriginal Words in English: Their Origin and Meaning, 2nd ed. edition, Oxford University Press, →ISBN, pages 104–106
  • Seal, Graham (1999) The Lingo: Listening to Australian English, University of New South Wales Press, →ISBN, page 15