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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Pack-horse horse that carries material.
Pack, to go to the to fall away; to collapse.
Paddock a field enclosed by a fence.
Paddymelon small species of wallaby.
Paddywhack a beating.
Pannikin small drinking vessel.
Pard a friend.
Parakeet small type of parrot.
Pass one to deliver a punch.
Pastoralist squatter.
Pat, on one's acting alone.
Patriot cynical term for convict.
Peach something good; a nice girl.
Pee-wee name used in N.S.W. For magpie lark.
Pelican a very large bird, with a very large bill, and distensible gular pouch.
Perish, doing a to shiver; to be cold.
Peter cash box.
Peter out to become exhausted.
Phiz the face.
Piccaninny a baby, or very young Australian aboriginal.
Pick up, to to join anyone.
Pig's ear beer.
Pike Australian name for species of salt-water fish.
Piker a thief.
Pile it on to exaggerate.
Pilot a clergyman.
Pinch to thieve.
Pins legs.
Pip, got the to be despondent.
Pitch a tale tell an untruth.
Plain turkey (see wild turkey).
Plant to hide.
Platypus remarkable indigenous animal forming a link between bird and beast.
Plug to strike.
Plug along to move with determination.
Plunge a big bet.
Podgy stout.
Point sensitive portion of the jaw.
Point, to take advantage; to contrive unfairly.
Poke a collar.
Polish off to finish.
Pommy English immigrant.
Pony 25.
a rather large rodent with spiked quills and which feeds chiefly upon bark, leaves and ants.
Port Jackson shark shark abounding around N.S.W. Coast.
a marsupial animal living in hollow trees, about two and half feet long, including the tail. The fur is chiefly greyish mixed with whitish hair.
Pot a sum of money.
Pot, old father, elderly person.
Prickly pear noxious weed.
Prince alberts
rags or bandages used by a swagman or sundowner around his feet in place of socks.
Prop a horse stopping suddenly.
Pub. hotel.
Pug. abbreviation for pugilist.
Pull, to take a to become wise; to refrain.
Pulling a horse to prevent a horse from winning a race.
Punter one who bets, chiefly on racehorses.
Push a crowd of larrikins.
Put it over to convince; tell a lie.
Put wise to be informed.
Python a genus of large snakes.
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