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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Mackerel a species of fish; plentiful in coastal waters.
Mado a Sydney fish Therepon Cuvieri.
Mad Mick a pick.
Mafeesh the finish (Arab.).
Mag to talk; scold.
Magpie black-and-white crow-shrike bird.
Magsman a talkative person; a deceiver.
Mahogany name applied to various hardwood trees.
Make tracks to proceed; to go away.
Mallee species of eucalyptus; mallee country.
Mark, a good easy to impose upon.
Marsupial an animal in which the female has abdominal pouch for carrying young.
Mashed to be in love.
Matilda bushman's swag.
Maul to pull about.
Meet an appointment.
Micky an unbranded, uncastrated calf approximating a year in age.
Mill a strenuous fight.
Millet a hardy grass.
Missed the 'bus to be left behind.
Mix it to fight violently.
Mizzle to leave hurriedly.
Mo. contraction of moment and moustache.
Mob group of larrikins; flock of sheep.
Moke a poor horse.
Moll a dissolute woman.
Moniker sobriquet.
Monkey to play with anything; to prank; 50.
Monkies a bush term for sheep.
Mooch to wander aimlessly.
Mooney to be foolish.
Mopoke aboriginal name for bird with weird metallic call.
Muck up to play the fool; to spoil.
Mug a silly person; the face.
Mug, to to fondle affectionately.
Mulga scrub in far west.
Mullock, to poke to deride.
Murray cod species of cod found in that river.
Mush sentiment.
Muslin, bit of a woman.
Mussels freshwater oysters. A shell-fish frequenting the rivers and creeks in Australia.
Myall an acacia tree, the wood of which is hard and well-grained.
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