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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Quandong aboriginal name for tree with small bluish-red fruit.
Queen effeminate person.
Queer the pitch to frustrate; to upset arrangements.
Quid a sovereign.
Quod gaol.
Quoll aboriginal name for native cat.
Rag a newspaper.
Rag, to chew the to grieve; to be melancholy.
Rag, to sky the to surrender.
Rain, to keep out of the to avoid danger.
Rattled confused, annoyed.
Ready up a fake.
Red bream name given to young schnapper.
Red gum variety of eucalyptus.
Redhead N.S.W. Name for the bird Aegintha Temporalis.
Red lot gold watch and chain.
Red 'ot unfair; extreme.
Ribuck expression of assent.
Righto exclamation of consent.
Right oil the truth; to be informed.
Rile to annoy.
Ringbark to cut bark around the trunk so as to kill it.
Ringer the quickest shearer.
Ring in false.
Ring, the dead similar; a likeness.
Roll a number of notes.
Ropeable wild; annoyed.
Rorty a rowdy.
Rough spin bad luck.
Rouse to upbraid.
Rouseabout jack-of-all-trades on a sheep station.
Rub out to disqualify.
Run against to meet.
Run for the money to be treated fairly.
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