voices from the past



A Dictionary of Australian Words and Terms

By Gilbert H. Lawson, published in the 1920's in Sydney, Australia

Tip ... mouse over words in table will turn on highlighting

Although this dictionary is over 80 years old, it gives you a glimpse into the way people spoke in that era. Some words have the same meaning today, while others may have changed or are seldom used anymore.

If you're reading Australian literature from this time period and earlier, such as works by Banjo Paterson, you may find this dictionary very helpful.


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A1 the best.
Aboriginal an original inhabitant of any land; an Australian black.
Absentee euphemistic term for convict. Word now disappeared.
Acacia kind of scrub. Australia possesses many species.
Adam's ale water.
Ain't abbreviation of "is not."
'Alf-a-mo fraction of a second.
Alley, to toss in the to give in.
All in exhausted.
All my eye expression of incredulity.
All there expression of praise.
All to pieces decadence. To fall away.
All to smash to be ruined.
Anchorwing species of falcon.
Answer is a lemon a meaningless reply.
Ante up a surrender.
Ant-orchis an Australian orchid.
ANZAC contraction of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
Anzac button makeshift for trousers' button.
Anzac stew foul water.
Anzac wafer hard and flavourless biscuit.
Apple-scented gum species of eucalyptus.
Apple trees names applied to various indigenous trees.
Arsapeek inverted.
Ash name applied to Australian woods.
Asthma herb a Queensland plant.
Aussie contraction of Australia
Austral thrush a bird of the thrush species; found in N.S.W.
Australia literally, southern land.
Awake to know all.
A.W.I. absent without leave.
Axe-breaker name of hardwood tree.
Axle-grease butter.
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