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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Cagmag scraps of food.
Cain and Abel table.
Camp out to sleep in the open.
Carpet-snake large, beautifully coloured snake.
Caser five shillings.
Cat, to whip the to regret.
Cattle-duffer one who steals cattle.
Cedar a valuable species of timber.
Chalk it to book credit.
Chatted him to ask.
Chew it over to contemplate.
Chicken-hearted a coward.
Chivvy the face.
Chock and log fence
a wooden fence built with parallel logs, and wooden chocks between, at right angles to the logs.
Choke off to get rid on
Chop to exchange articles; to divide.
Chow a Chinese.
Chuck to throw.
Chuck in to contribute.
Chuck up to give in.
Chump a simpleton.
Chunk piece.
Cicada an insect erroneously called locust.
Click to contract.
Clinch to agree.
Cliner a young girl.
Clobber suit of clothes.
Clout a hard blow.
Cobber a friend.
Cockatoo a white parrot with a handsome crest of orange or yellow tinge.
Cock eye a squint.
Come down a disappointment.
Cone the nose.
Coo-ee a bush call.
Coot a contemptible person.
Copper a policeman.
Corker proficient person.
Cornstalk young Australian.
Cotton on to to become friendly.
Count, to take the to remain prostrate.
Cove an individual.
Cow lick a tuft of hair.
Crabbed it to spoil.
Crack hardy to suppress feelings.
Crack up to become exhausted.
Crib a house.
Crib to steal; a home.
Crikey exclamation of astonishment.
Croak to die.
Croaker a complainer.
a four-footed reptile, with long flat head and very large mouth displaying many teeth, sunken eyes, nose slightly turned up.
Crook brummagen.
Crook spin run of bad luck.
Cropper a fall.
Cruelled the pitch to upset arrangements.
Crumby dirty.
Crust livelihood.
bush bird, with depressing note, of the snipe family, but large size for a member of that group. Long legs, bill turned downwards.
Cut it out to dispense with.
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