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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Salt-bush alkaline herb growing in interior.
Salt junk corned beef.
Sandy-blight kind of ophthalmia.
Savvy pidgin English meaning "do you understand?"
Scab non-union labourer.
Scaler a fraud.
Schnapper good-eating Australian fish.
School gathering of gamblers.
Scoot to clear out; also continued bout of drunkenness.
Scrag to pull about.
Scran food.
Scrap a fight.
Screw, to extort.
Scrub country overgrown with thick bushes.
Scut a mean person.
Set to be satisfied.
Set against to dislike a person.
Set back a reverse.
Settle, to to ruin.
Settler one who takes up land.
Set, to to brawl; to make arrangements.
Shag a black-and-white bird which lives mostly on fish.
Shanty rudely built hut.
Shark a trickster.
Shearer's delight treacle.
Sheila a young lady.
Shicer unproductive mine; a trickster.
Shicker to drink.
Shindy a row.
Shirty ill-tempered.
Shoe-leather boots.
Shook stolen.
Shook on to be friendly.
Short of a gallop out of condition.
Shot to be drunk.
Shout to buy a drink.
Shovel-nose species of shark.
Sinker a drunkard.
Sir Garneo, all excellent.
Skirt a girl.
Skite to boast.
Sky the wipe surrender; to cry enough.
Slab a piece.
Slanter dishonest.
Slap-up good.
Slats the ribs.
Slick quick.
Slip-rail part of a fence so fitted that it can be removed.
Slog to hit heavily.
Slope to depart.
Sloppy sentimental; maudlin.
Slush-lamp bush lamp.
Slushy a kitchen hand.
Smooge to cringe; to fawn.
Smooger one who fawns.
Snack a frugal meal.
Snake juice strong drink.
Snifter good.
Snob a bootmaker.
Snout to regard unfavourably.
Snuff to die.
Sock it in to administer severe punishment.
So-long farewell.
Sool to incite.
Sore, to get to become annoyed.
Sour, to get to become discontented.
Soused drunk.
Southern cross a constellation used as symbol of Australia.
Sozzled intoxicated.
Spare me days ejaculation of surprise.
Sparrow hawk
in colour like the sparrow, in shape and build like the ordinary hawk, and in size very little larger than a crow.
Spar, to to delay.
Spliced married.
Splitting cutting timber.
Spotted to be seen.
Spout to be talkative.
Spruiker a speaker.
Square honest.
Squatter a grazier
Squeak to inform.
Squib a coward.
Squirt a revolver.
Squiz a hurried look
Stand in to make one of a party.
Stand off to keep out.
Station a sheep run and homestead.
Stetson a hat.
Stick, to to stand by; to support.
Stiff to be unlucky.
Stink a quarrel.
Stock-horse horse used in driving cattle.
Stockman one who drives stock.
Stock-whip a long, plaited thong on a diminutive handle.
Stonkered to be very drunk.
Stop one to take a drink.
Stouch a fight; to assault.
Strength of it to learn the details.
Stretch a term of imprisonment.
Strides trousers.
'Struth an exclamation.
Stuff coin.
Suds beer.
Suds shop hotel.
Sugar money.
Sundowner a tramp.
Swag a tramp's bundle.
Swagman a tramp.
Swap exchange.
Swell showy person.
Swig to have a drink.
Swingin' the head to impose; making excuses.
Swipe a blow.
Swy two.
Sydney or the bush all or nothing.
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