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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Kadi hat.
Kanaka labourer from south sea islands.
a marsupial animal about five feet long including the tail, with small head, large ears, very long and powerful hind legs, and a long, thick tail.
Kangaroo dog a greyhound, or any class of dog used in hunting kangaroos.
Kauri a yellow valuable wood.
Keek to have a look.
a short-haired, pricked-eared, medium-sized Australian-bred dog, with a strain of dingo blood in him.
Kersplosh to fall heavily.
Kick to protest.
Kick back to return the buying of a drink; to raise a bet.
Kick off to commence.
Kick the bucket to die.
Kid a child; to deceive.
Kidding deceiving.
Kid stakes to pretend.
Kingfisher English bird-name; there are thirteen Australian species.
King hit the winning blow in a fight.
Kipsie a dwelling.
Knob leader.
Knock down an introduction.
Knocked-out drops drugged drink.
Knocked-up tired out.
Knock 'em over buy drinks quickly.
Knuckle-duster big finger ring.
Knut a flash person.
K.O. knock-out blow.
Koala aboriginal name for native bear.
Kookaburra (see laughing jackass).
Kurrajong aboriginal name for various-plants.
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