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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Dag a funny fellow.
Dago an Italian.
Damper bread cooked in the ashes.
Darling pea Australian plant found in the west of N.S.W.
Darling shower a dust storm in Riverina.
Dash an ejaculation expressing annoyance.
Dash it exclamation of annoyance.
Dead-beat a derelict.
Deal it out administer punishment.
Deaner a shilling.
Deep sinker large vessel made of glass, metal or other substance used to drink out of.
Demons detectives.
Derry to have a grudge.
Dial the face.
Diamond snake venomous reptile.
Dicken to express doubt.
Dickey shirt front.
Diddle to cheat.
Dingbats to be annoyed; D.T.'s.
Ding-dong go a good fight.
Digger a gold miner; an Australian soldier.
a wild dog found in Australia. It has a wolf-like face, bushy tail and usually a reddish-brown colour.
Dinkum fair and honest.
Dinky-di integrity; reputable.
Dirty left a formidable hit.
Dish it out to serve roughly.
Divvy a portion.
Dizzy limit the utmost degree
Dodge to evade.
Dodger bread.
Doer humorist.
Do in to defraud.
Dollar five shillings.
Dollop a lump of matter.
Doll up to dress fashionably.
Done up exhausted; overdressed.
Dooks the hands.
Doss to sleep.
Dough money.
Douse to wet; extinguish.
Down south to put away.
Draft to class cattle.
Dray a cart.
Drum a brothel.
Duckbill (see platypus).
Dud a failure.
Duds trousers.
Duffer a fool.
Dugong genus of marine mammals inhabiting north Australian coast.
Dumper a curling breaker.
Dunno do not know.
Dunnyken a closet.
Dust flour.
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