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Australian Word List

Word List

These are the three- and four-letter words currently classed as Australian by the Ozlip Australian word game.

If you have just landed here via a search engine, you have not found a general-purpose Australian dictionary. See the References at the bottom of this page for links to some Australian English resources, and see the Explanation of the Word List for details of how these words were selected.

Explanation of the Word List

This word list contains the words currently classed as Australian words by the Ozlip Australian word game. Only three- and four-letter words are used in the game, with the QU combination treated as a single letter.

Plurals and other inflected forms (e.g. bots, sank) are not listed here, but they are permitted in the game, provided they are no more than four letters long.

The words have been chosen because they fall into at least one of the following categories:

  • words originating in Australia (e.g. emu)
  • words with a meaning or usage originating in Australia (e.g. bag meaning to denigrate, cask for the cardboard wine container invented in Australia)
  • words used with a particular meaning by Australians but not widely used that way by English-speakers generally (e.g. cove meaning man, fellow)
  • words with a special significance in Australian culture (e.g. bush, mate)

As is usual in word games, words are not permitted if they are normally written with a capital letter or a punctuation mark.

I have left out some words that seem to me to be totally obsolete or very rare, although there were a few obscure words that I couldn't resist leaving in, such as onka. Judgements on which words are rarely-used are quite subjective, so I may have left out words that others think should be included.

Corrections and suggestions are always welcome. You can send an email to

The contents of this website are copyright, but I do not claim any rights over the list of words given here. If you want to use this selection of words in your own game or puzzle, please feel free. (Naturally, I would appreciate acknowledgement, and I would be interested to hear about any uses of the word list.)

(n) stupid person, fool. Probably derived from smart alec, although the meaning is different. Originally underworld slang for a sucker, according to Baker in The Australian Language.
(n) ambulance officer
(n) dismissal, "get the arse" = get the sack; impudence, cheek; luck - "more arse than class"
(n) afternoon
(n) avocado
(v) denigrate
(v & n) borrow, cadge; demand for loan (put the bite on)
(n) fight, "stack on a blue" = cause a fight or make a fuss; mistake - "He made a blue there"
(v) as in "bog in" or "bog into", embark on something - especially eating a meal - with enthusiasm
(n) old car, or any old, dilapidated machine; a jump into the water, making a big splash
(n) Aboriginal initiation rite
(v & n) cadge; cadger. "On the bot" = seeking to cadge or borrow something. Can also be used in a milder, non-disparaging sense - "Can I bot a smoke off you?"
(adj & adv) many; very
(adj) broken - "the TV's gone bung" (from an Aboriginal word bang, meaning "dead")
(n) attempt - "give it a burl"
(n) Australian wooded country, or countryside generally
(v & n) commentate on sporting event. Used elsewhere now, but claimed as Australian by the Australian National Dictionary, with an earliest usage example from 1906.

Used especially in horse racing, where the commentator is called a "race caller", but can be used of other sports. For example: "Would it be too much to ask for the ABC commentary team to comprehensively call the cricket ball by ball, give us the score frequently and describe the atmosphere?" asked "Bob Cricket", a contributor to a discussion on the Crikey Website in January 2004.
(v) die (also cark it). Often used of a machine that breaks down - "the car's finally carked it"
(int) come on, as encouragement to sports team - "Carn the Lions!"
(n) casualty ward (emergency department) of hospital
(n) wine container consisting of bag inside a cardboard box (invented in Australia, now found elsewhere)
(adj & n) good, as in "not much chop"; share of winnings, etc - "in for your chop"; woodchopping contest
(n) adhesive paste; anything of a similar consistency
(n) form of address meaning friend, from cobber
(n) backside; also quoit
(n) competition; football league or similar - "There are some good teams in the comp"
(n) fellow; bloke. Derived from British criminal cant, but said to be used mainly in Australia.
(n) term of abuse; disagreeable person or situation - "I've had a cow of a day"
(n) crayfish
(n) snack; break from work to eat snack
(v) to cheat at marbles by moving your hand over the line when shooting
(n) criminal
(n) crocodile
(v) to make a packed lunch, usually sandwiches - "cut lunch" = a packed lunch.

An example of this use of cut was in an ABC Perth 21 June 2003 story on saving money around the house - "cut your own lunch to take to work every day". Also in Teens, A Story of Australian School Girls, 1923, by Louise Mack: "'Do you cut your own lunch?' she asked. 'No. My mother cuts it for me. Do you cut yours?'", etc, etc (chapter IV, see online text). A cut-lunch commando is either an office-based soldier or a member of the army reserve.
(n) caning or strapping as corporal punishment (now rare, thankfully)
(v) to pull someone's trousers down
(n) unstylish or awkward person (can be used affectionately); an eccentric; also, but apparently of unrelated origin, excrement hanging off sheep's backside
(n) trousers
(n) quota of work, either officially defined or imposed by workers. Used also in Scotland and Northern England.
(n) darling
(n & v) anus; to poke someone in the backside
(n) police detective
(n) political demonstration (said to have been first used in this sense in Australia, in 1904)
(n) a vagrant (from derelict)
(v) throw away
(n) differential in car
(n) form of address, from digger
(n) toilet (also dyke)
(n) fool
(n) dent, especially in surfboard; minor motor accident; party; foreigner (offensive); backside; penis
(v & n) carry someone on your bike; a ride on a bike - "give us a dink"
(v) inform (on) - "I'm dobbing on you!", often dob in; contribute (money) to a collection; kick the ball in Australian Rules football, especially to score a goal - "He dobbed it right through the middle"
(n) documentary
(n) someone who copes with a hard life; person of character; eccentric
(n) informer. Originally from US slang, but seems to have been mainly used in Australia.
(v & n) hit; blow - "dong on the head"
(n) engine; donkey; penis
(n) information; swagman's bundle (see swag)
(n) paint on car
(v) defraud
(v) steal cattle or other stock
(n) toilet (also dike)
(n) large flightless bird
(n) insulated box for keeping food and drink cold
(adj) expensive
(v) borrow money aggressively; drive fast (from Fangio)
(n) erect penis
(adj) drunk
(n) look - "have a geek at that"
(v & n) to mock; (take) an inquisitive look; fool; figure of fun
(n) Aboriginal woman (offensive). Derived from a word meaning "woman" in an Aboriginal language, this term is listed in many dictionaries without any usage comments, but it is offensive and racist when used by non-Aboriginal speakers.
(n) slingshot (also shanghai, pronounced with the stress on the first syllable)
(n) egg, "full as a goog" = completely full (of food)
(n) methylated spirits, when drunk by alcoholics
(n) alcoholic drink of any kind. Generally used in informal contexts, but not always. For example, "What grog does to two cities" was a front page headline in the Yarra Leader for 21 February 2005, above an article by Steve Proganowski about a report on alcohol-related deaths analysed by municipality.
(n) The popular name for many types of Australian tree, mainly eucalypts. Gum tree

The term "gum tree" was first used in 1770 by Joseph Banks, the naturalist on James Cook's expedition that travelled up the east coast of Australia. Cook and Banks had both remarked on various types of tree that exuded a gum. At a place called Thirsty Sound, when Banks saw similar trees, he wrote in his journal, "Most of the trees were gum trees."

There are hundreds of species of gum tree, and they are found all over Australia. The world's tallest flowering plants are Australian gum trees - Eucalyptus regnans in Tasmania, standing almost 100 metres (over 320 feet) tall. Although there are a few eucalypts native to New Guinea and other places outside Australia, most of the gum trees found in countries all around the world are descended from seeds from Australia. Bluegums were introduced to Addis Ababa to provide a quick-growing source of fuel, and the city, whose name means "new flower" in Amharic, is said to have been named in honour of the trees. (One reason the trees thrived there was that goats would not eat the leaves of seedlings, because of the eucalyptus oil they contain.) For a while, international bodies such as the FAO and the World Bank encouraged many countries to plant eucalypts, but in more recent times concerns have been expressed about the damage done to local plants by the fast-growing, water-guzzling gum trees.

The above information about gum trees comes from Gum, by Ashley Hay (Duffy & Snellgrove, Sydney, 2002).
(adj & n) highly talented; champion in some field. Originally used in gun shearer but can be used in any field. "Have gun online service, will travel" was an Age headline on 7 September 2004. The phrase gun coder was used by Sausage Software, as documented by this comment from a May 2000 review: "The guys at Sausage are calling HotDog Professional 6.0, 'The Gun Coder's Solution'. I found this description apt as the program sports almost every feature you could imagine in an HTML Editor." (See .)
(n & a) gynaecologist; gynaecology; gynaecological
(n) effrontery, cheek, impertinence
(n & v) lout; show-off; reckless driver; behave recklessly - "stop hooning around".

An example of the use of this word was in an article in "The Sunday Age" on 17 October 2004. The headline read, "Plans to seize hoons' cars". The article gave the following examples of "hoon driving behaviour": "excess noise, illegal street racing, refusal to leave a public place, exhibitions of acceleration and burn-outs". The article also referred to a "dob in a hoon" telephone hotline - two Aussie words in one go!
(n) a jockey
(n) beer. Term used elsewhere, but mainly in Australia.
(n) a call - "give us a hoy"; a game of chance.

As an interjection to attract attention hoy is international, but in the sense of any kind of contact, as in "give me a hoy", it seems to be Australian. When I tried searching for "give me a hoy" on Google, the first ten entries for the phrase were all from Australians, where the nationality could be determined. (On one discussion board, it was also used as a verb in "hoy I will" in reply to someone else saying "give me a hoy".)

Another completely different Australian meaning for hoy is as the name of a game of chance, similar to bingo, played with packs of cards.
(v) carry a load ("hump the bluey" = carry a swag)
(n, v, adj) kookaburra; jackaroo; venereal disease; "jack up" refuse to cooperate; "jack of" sick of
(n) trooper or policeman; fool; snake (from rhyming slang Joe Blake); ewe

The song "Click Go the Shears" contains a phrase, referring to a ewe, variously represented as "bare-bellied joe", "bare-bellied yeo" and "bare-bellied yoe". Given that a snippet from the tune of "Click Go the Shears" is played by the Ozlip game when you make it to the top of a high-score table, we include all three words in this list. (Actually, "yow" is used sometimes too, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere.)

Incidentally, the tune is actually from an American song, "Ring the Bell, Watchman!" by Henry C Work (1832-84). "High in the belfry the old sexton stands, Grasping the rope with his thin bony hands..." At the Digital Tradition Mirror site, you can hear the tune and see the lyrics to both songs. (In this version, it's a "blue-bellied Joe".)
(n) baby kangaroo
(n) jujube, piece of chewy confectionery
(n) kerosene
(n) type of gum tree; resin exuded by that tree
(v) break up ore
(v) inform against
(n & v) flashily dressed man; to dress flashily; to act in a vulgar manner
(n) attempt - "have a lash at it"; fight
(v) arrive unexpectedly
(n) scheme
(v & n) catch the ball in Australian Rules football, after it has travelled at least 15 metres directly from a kick, earning the opportunity to kick the ball without interference from opposing players; the act of marking the ball; the spot from which a kick is taken following a mark or a free kick.

The mark is based on something similar in rugby, and has been part of Australian Rules Football from early days. For example, the Rules of the Melbourne Football Club, May 1859 state: "Any player catching the Ball directly from the foot may call 'mark'. He then has a free kick; no player from the opposite side being allowed to come inside the spot marked." (Quoted in Geoffrey Blainey, A Game of Our Own: The Origins of Australian Football, revised edition, 2003, Black Inc. page 222.) Originally there was no lower limit on the distance the ball needed to have travelled before being marked, and the "little mark" was a feature of the game, where a team kept possession of the ball via a string of tiny passes.
(n) friend. This word, used meaning "friend", is certainly not unique to Australia, but according to the Australian National Dictionary, it has a number of related meanings that are specifically Australian. Moreover, the words mate and mateship have played important roles in the history of Australian culture.

Originally, "mateship" was a term mainly used by the political left in Australia. "Socialism... is the desire to be mates, is the ideal of living together in harmony and brotherhood and loving kindness," declared The Hummer, the shearers' newspaper from Wagga Wagga in 1892. (Quoted in R.N. Ebbels, The Australian Labour Movement 1850-1907.)

But in recent times, the nationalist connotations of mateship have been emphasised, to the point where it risks becoming a tool for populist bigotry. Now mateship seems to mean, at least to some people, uniting against foreigners and "un-Australian" ideas. In 1999, then Prime Minister John Howard - certainly no socialist - proposed adding a preamble to the Australian constitution that would identify mateship as one of the essential features of the nation.
(n) class of people (e.g. weird mob); large number of anything
(n) girl or woman, especially one considered to have loose morals
(v & n) jinx - "put a moz on him" (also mozz)
(n) musician
(n) myxomatosis, disease of rabbits
(n) banana; do your nana, lose your temper; off your nana, crazy; said to have been a short-lived hairstyle of the 1920s, hence the expressions where nana stands in for head
(v) go, as in nick out, nick off
(n) idiot
(n) see nork
(n) woman's breast (also norg).

According to Baker in The Australian Language, the word is derived from the Norco Co-operative, which depicted a cow's udder on its butter packaging. Susan Butler in The Dinkum Dictionary (2001) questions this theory, asking why the term norco was never used before being shortened to nork, and where, in this account, the variant norg comes from. An alternative explanation of the word's origin was published a few years ago in the Ozwords newsletter, claiming the word was inspired by an Australian band called the New Orleans Rythm Kings.

Usage note: Susan Butler points out that nork is a blokey term, unlikely to be used by a woman, who might use a word like, say, boobs. (When looking for Susan Butler's book, be aware that there are at least two other books with names similar to "Dinkum Dictionary", and they are not necessarily as dinkum as that of Ms Butler, who is the publisher of the Macquarie Dictionary.)
(n) information; news.
(n) finger (rhyming slang from Onkaparinga, once a brand of blanket made at the Onkaparinga Woollen Mills in South Australia)
(int) good on you!
(n) sportsground (of whatever shape)
(n & v) passionate kissing; to kiss passionately, also pash on.

Usage examples:

"kiss me passionately / pash me pash me pash me" ("Pash", song by Kate Ceberano and Mark Goldenberg, 1997)

"The festival's bayside climax would not come until late afternoon and the first puckerings of the Yooralla's Kiss for a Cause, an attempt to 'smash the pash' and break the world record for simultaneously kissing couples." ("St Kilda's passion for pashing", by Jonathon Green, The Age, 14 February 2005)

An article by Barry Divola in Sunday Life, the Sunday Age Magazine on 6 February 2005 describes pash as 70s Australian slang, but claims it is big in the UK and is set for a resurgence. He says, "Be prepared for pash rash all over again." Pash rash = stubble rash caused by prolonged pashing with a badly-shaven man.
(n) own, as in "on your pat". Derived from rhyming slang, "on your Pat Malone".
(n) pavlova (dessert)
(n) favourite in race, election, competition for job, etc
(v) throw, discard. If you throw something out, you could say you "piffed it out", or you "piffed it off" or, simply, that you "piffed it".

This is not a very new word, but Australian dictionaries have caught up with it only recently. It does not seem to be listed in any dictionary or Australian slang book printed before 2003. The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary (2004) gives the terse definition "throw". The Macquarie ABC Dictionary (2003) says, "to throw; chuck: piff yonnies." (Yonnies is also an Australian slang word, meaning small stones.) Both dictionaries agree that the word is mainly Victorian.
(n) telltale, informer
(n) English person, often in a derogatory sense - also Pom
(n) suitcase; any travelling bag
(v) to stop abruptly; stand still; stay - "I'll prop here for a while"
(n) a gamble or risk, as in "take a punt"
(n) gang, clique. Originally a gang of ruffians, now any group with common interests or background. (Also The Push - the Sydney University Libertarian Society, whose most famous member was Germaine Greer.)
(n) a medical practitioner, without implying lack of qualifications. Used elsewhere now, but recorded first in Australia.
(n) backside, also coit
(n) type of marsupial
(n & v) a really good time; to party.

Since 1987, Australia's ABC television has used "Rage" as the name of an all-night rock music video show. (See
(v & n) praise, commendation - "she gave me a big rap", also wrap
(adj) delighted; infatuated - also wrapped
(n) car registration
(n) relatives
(n) kangaroo
(v & n) (have) sexual intercourse; sexual partner - "he's a good root"; ruin - "it's completely rooted"

An exploitative male can be labelled a wombat, because he "eats, roots and leaves". This joke is the original for the story associated with the title of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, the book about punctuation by Lynne Truss. Her bowdlerised version requires a tedious explanation, is no longer amusing and doesn't really make a lot of sense. Pity! If Truss had come up with a better title her book might have sold a few copies.
(n & v) swindle
(n) In Australian Rules football, the player who jumps high in the air to knock the ball down to a team-mate is called a ruckman, and is said to play in the ruck.

"The ruck" can also be a collective term for the three players on a team, also called "followers", who do not have a specific position on the field. The three followers are normally a ruckman, a rover and a ruck-rover, although these don't seem to be prescribed by the rules of the game.

Until recently, the Australian dictionaries were not much help with the word ruck. Their definitions were all eerily similar, and all seemed to miss the essence of the contemporary meaning. For example, the Macquarie Dictionary (3rd edition, 1997) said, "ruck ... Australian Rules a. a group of three players, a rover and two followers (ruckmen), who do not have fixed positions but follow the play with the purpose of winning possession of the ball. b. the two followers only. c. a member of either of these groups." and "ruckman (in Australian Rules) one who plays in the ruck; follower". This seems out of date, in that there is now usually only one ruckman, and the term follower is used nowadays to refer to rovers as well as ruckmen, but the more glaring problem is that it doesn't tell us anything about what the ruckman specifically does (other than trying to win possession of the ball - as opposed, presumably to other players whose mission in life is to avoid the ball at all costs). Similar definitions can be found in the Australian National Dictionary, the Australian Oxford Dictionary and the Collins Australian Dictionary.

After the above comments had been on this website for some time, we were contacted by the people at the Macquarie Dictionary, who pointed out that the 5th edition (2009) of the dictionary has an updated coverage of ruck in the Australian Rules football sense. The primary sense is now given as "the group of players directly engaged in the competition for control of the ball at a ball-up or throw-in." The definitions quoted above are still there, but marked as obsolete. Well done, Macquarie! A great improvement.

Fortunately, an even more prestigious reference work is at hand: Aussie Rules for Dummies, by Jim Main (Wiley Publishing Aust Pty Ltd, 2003). From the Cheat Sheet inside the front cover, "Ruckman: usually (but not always) the tallest player in the side, the ruckman gets his team moving from stoppages, such as bounce-downs, boundary throw-ins and ball-ups. His main role is to tap or knock the ball to smaller teammates from these stoppages and his work is called ruck play... A good ruckman can also take marks around the ground." Now that's more like it for a definition!
(n) saveloy
(pron) it, as in "she'll be right, mate"
(v) swallow, as in "sink a few beers". Used elsewhere now, but first recorded in Australia.
(n) Australian of British descent (often derogatory)
(v) swallow a drink in one go - also skoal, skull
(n) shrink-wrapped package of two dozen cans or bottles of beer
(v & n) spit
(v & n) charge excessively, an excessive charge
(adj) illegal, as in sly grog, illicitly sold alcohol
(n & v) sausage; to shear sheep
(n) pushover, easy victim; simple task
(n) cry-baby, person too ready to complain
(v) egg someone (on); originally, to set a dog on someone
(n) an attractive person, usually female, also good sort
(n) shirk; back down
(n) a quick look - "take a squiz at this"
(v) ride waves on a board (usage first recorded in Australia). The earliest example of this usage quoted in the Australian National Dictionary is from a 1913 Bulletin article. Although most people in other countries would probably not think of it now as an Australian expression, its Australian origin, together with the strong association between surfing and the stereotypical Australian lifestyle, give it a strong claim to be considered an Australianism.
(n) bundle of possessions of an itinerant, often in a rolled blanket
(n) two-up, a gambling game played by tossing coins
(n) evening meal, dinner. The use of this word for a meal at which tea is not necessarily drunk seems to be most common in Australia and the north of England.
(n) tenosynovitis, inflammation of a tendon sheath
(n) see tyke
(v) to guess - "Did you tip it was me at the door?"
(adj) edgy, restless, eager for action, sexually excited
(n) swimming costume
(n) euphemism for lavatory
(n) totalizator betting system
(n) open platform on truck
(n) run of good or bad luck
(n) type of marsupial
(n) can or bottle of beer
(n) party; fuss - "stack on a turn"
(n) Roman Catholic (derogatory)
(n) university
(n) utility truck
(n & v) a vagrant; charge with vagrancy
(n & adj) vegetarian (pronounced "vedge-oh")
(v) play truant (from), as in "wag school" - also wag it, play truant (said to be derived from waghalter, a person likely to be hanged!)

This expression has been used in England, but seems to be in common use now mainly in Australia. In Dickens' Dombey and Son (1848), the following piece of dialogue appears: "'...My misfortunes all began in wagging, Sir; but what could I do, exceptin' wag?' 'Excepting what?' said Mr. Carker. 'Wag, Sir. Wagging from school.' 'Do you mean pretending to go there, and not going?' said Mr. Carker. 'Yes, Sir, that's wagging, Sir...'"
(v) dismiss; disown
(n) germ; illness
(n) type of python
(n) derogatory term for white person used by Aborigines; generalized term of abuse; effeminate or homosexual male
(n) commendation, also rap
(v & n) to chat; talk; a chat; discussion
(n) ewe, as in "bare-bellied yeo" - also yoe and joe
(n) ewe - also yeo and joe
(n) see zack
(n) sixpence, in pre-decimal currency times. Now mainly used figuratively, in expressions like "not a zack". Also, in criminal slang, a prison term of six months or six years.
(n) beard


Note: Most Australian dictionaries aim to cover the English language as it is spoken in Australia. Hence most of the words in these dictionaries are not peculiarly Australian. And words that are used only in Australia are not necessarily labelled as such. Paradoxically, the best information about which words and usages are Australian can sometimes be found in a good international dictionary. However, the Oxford Australian Dictionaries have a policy of labelling Australian words and usages, and are therefore extremely useful to the Australian word list compiler. (But note that the Ozlip Australian Word List also includes some words that are commonly used outside Australia but appear to have originated in Australia. An example is muso.)

The Australian National Dictionary seems to be the only general dictionary that restricts itself to Australian words and usages.

The Australian National Dictionary: A Dictionary of Australianisms on Historical Principles. W.S. Ramson. Oxford University Press, 1988. The full contents are available online.

The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, fifth Edition. Edited by Bruce Moore. Oxford University Press, 2009. An online edition is available by subscription - your local public library may have a subscription allowing you to access this service from home.

The Macquarie Dictionary - Fifth Edition. Macquarie Dictionary, 2009. An online edition is available by subscription - your local public library may have a subscription allowing you to access this service from home.

The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles. Lesley Brown. Oxford University Press, 1993.

A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms, fourth edition. G A Wilkes. Oxford University Press, 1996. The 5th edition was published in 2008 as Stunned Mullets & Two-pot Screamers : a Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms.

Macquarie Australian Slang Dictionary. Macquarie Dictionary, 2004.

The Australian Language, second edition. Sidney J Baker. Sun Books, 1970.

The Dinkum Dictionary: The Origins of Australian Slang. Susan Butler. Text, 2001.

Ozwords, the newsletter of the Australian National Dictionary Centre. Subscription is free at And in the April 2006 issue at, you can read an article by us about compiling the Ozlip word list!

OneLook Dictionary Search,, provides links to many online dictionaries.