Aboriginal Words in Australian English

These words of Australian Aboriginal origin include some that are used frequently within Australian-English, such as kangaroo and boomerang. Many such words have also become loaned words in other languages beyond English, while some are restricted to Australian English.

Possibly, the most popular Aboriginal loanwords are plants and animals which are now in everyday use.  This is understandable as early settlers, explorers and others would need to discover the animals and plants in this unknown Australian landscape.

An Indigenous Australian playing the didgeridoo

Major Aboriginal Group names

Koori: Represents Aboriginal people from the South East of the Australian mainland (Let’s say anywhere south of Kempsey down to Melbourne).

Noongar: Noongars (Nungas/Nungahs) are Aboriginal people from the South West of the Australian mainland. Variations of this name are also used in areas of South Australia too.

Murri: Murri’s (or Murry) are Aboriginal people from Queensland & Far Northern NSW.

Palawa: Aboriginal people of Tasmania.

Yolngu: Yolngu people are one of many Indigenous groups in Northern Australia and we are adding them to this grouping because their name and people are so prominent in Australian television & music. Famous Yolngu names include David Gulpilil, Magnolia Maymuru and the band Yothu Yindi.

Those are the major modern day grouping names for Aboriginal people. You may be wondering about the huge areas of land that the above names did not cover and to put it simply, Aboriginal people in those areas of Central/Northern & Western Australia still identify themselves by their individual tribal groups.

Aboriginal Words in Australian English

Most common words in use today

Bunji: Means friend/mate.

Cooee: Is actually a widely used Aboriginal word that is often unknowingly used by non Indigenous people. But luckily they have been using the word correctly as the word means ‘come here’ in the Dharug language from the South Western areas of Sydney.

Yidaki: Is the Yolngu name for Didgeridoo. Many people believe that the word didgeridoo is actually an Aboriginal word when in fact the word is a made up word that loosely describes the sound that comes out of the oldest wind instrument on the planet.

Yowie: Is one of many words to describe a much feared super-natural being. Other names include hairy man and bungaree. There is even a Yowie statue in Kilcoy in South East Queensland and there are many Australian’s both white & black that swear they still exist deep in Australia’s forest to this very day.

Coolamon: is what we had before tupperware came along. The multi-purpose curved wooden tray can be used for carrying infants, food, digging and for burning leaves during smoking/cleansing ceremonies.

Woomera: Is one of our most fascinating inventions. A woomera is a spear thrower. It lays between the end of a spear and your hand. The woomera acts as a lever that propels the spear at an incredible speed. A woomera and spear are so fast that they were actually the fastest weapon before the existence of the rifle.

Nulla Nulla: Also known as a deadly 7 or a hunting boomerang is a long carved piece of wood that is shaped like the number 7. It is a versatile war club that flies aerodynamically through at high speed usually with the intention of killing it’s target. They can be shaped with flat heads as pictured or with a rounded head.

Canberra: Is the capital of Australia and if you read our recent article of the biggest Aboriginal named cities in Australia you would know that Canberra came in at number 1. We think it would be great if every Australian knew the meaning. Canberra is actually the word for ‘meeting place’ in the local Ngunnawal language.

Marlu: There are many different Aboriginal words for Kangaroo (including the word Kangaroo) but the one that always sticks in my mind is Marlu. Marlu comes from the Warlpiri language group in Central Australia.

Deadly: Is not an Aboriginal word however it has taken its own meaning among Aboriginal society. Deadly to Aboriginal people means excellent/amazing/really good. This can be quite confusing to non Aboriginal people who might witness someones artwork being described as deadly.

Unna: Chances are that if you live in Western Australia you have heard the word unna, Unna? It roughly translates into – am I right/is that right/true or the way some people use the word yeah as a question (that’s your deadly car, yeah?) Now replace the word yeah with unna.

Gammon: Can mean fake (he’s gammon, he thinks he’s good but he’s never played football in his life), pathetic (this didgeridoo from Indonesia is gammon, a garden hose would sound better), or to pretend (Just gammon mum, I wasn’t really trying to sneak out).

Shakealeg: This is a common slang word for Aboriginal dancing. In particular, shakealeg refers to the ability to the traditional movement which sees the dancers knees moving in and out while the feet continue to move forward at the same time.

Gubba: Is one of many words that means white people. Gubba actually comes from the word government and is used mostly in a derogatory manner. Other more traditional words used to describe white people include migaloo & wadjela.

Tidda: Simply means sister and can also be used for female friends.

Well how are you feeling so far? Do you feel deadly knowing all these new words or are you still worried some bunji’s will say you’re gammon? What if an overseas tourist asked you how to say hello using an Aboriginal word; Would you have an answer? Here are 3 different ways to say hello in various Aboriginal languages.

Kaya/Palya/Yaama:Kaya means hello in the Noongar language. Palya is a Pintupi language word used as a greeting much in the same way that two friends would say hello in English while Yaama is a Gamilaraay language word for hello used in Northern NSW.

Mob: Is another English word that has been twisted and turned and taken on its own form among Aboriginal people. Mob can mean my family or my tribal group. One of the first questions Aboriginal people usually ask each other is “Who’s your mob”? From those three words one can usually figure out where they are from, who they are related too etc.

Aboriginal curse words / swear words

Goona: Poo! (He did the biggest goona you’ve ever seen).

Budoo: Penis! (Lookout doing a shakealeg with a laplap on, ya budoo might come out).

Doori: Sex!

Aboriginal Words in Australian English

Aboriginal words and their meanings alpha index

Adelong
Said to be derived from an Aboriginal language meaning “along the way” or “plain with a river”.
Ajana
Is thought to be either the Nanda name for the area or to be derived from a similar word meaning “mine”.
Akuna
An Aboriginal word meaning to follow.
Allawah
An Aboriginal name meaning “make your abode here” or “remain here”.
Amaroo
Means ‘a beautiful place’ in one of the local Aboriginal dialects.
Araluen
The name ‘Araluen’ means ‘water lily’ or ‘place of the water lilies’ in the local aboriginal language.
Aranda
Its name is derived from the Arrernte tribe of Central Australia, previously known as Arunta and means ‘White Cockatoo’.
Arrino
Is Aboriginal in origin and is the name of the local springs – thought to mean “place of many granite hills”.
Attunga
The name is an Aboriginal word for “a high place”
Awaba
Is of Aboriginal origins, and means “flat or plain surface”
Balarang
Said to mean “place of swamp oak”.
Ballarat

derived from local Wathaurong Aboriginal words for the area, balla arat – Thought to mean “resting place”.

Berowra
Is an Aboriginal word that means place of many winds.
Berri
From the local Aboriginal tribe, Meri, meaning “a wide bend in the river”.
Billimari
From the local Wiradjuri language – meaning “plenty of water”.
Biloela
Generally believed to be Aboriginal for ‘black or white cockatoo’.
Bogan Gate
Derived from the local Aboriginal word meaning “the birthplace of a notable headman of the local tribe”.
Boggabri
The name comes from Kamilaroi/ Gamilaraay language – bagaaybaraay, literally “having creeks”.
Booligal
An Aboriginal word meaning either ‘windy place’, ‘large swamp’ or ‘place of flooded box trees’.
Bouddi
is An Aboriginal word for ‘a heart’ or ‘water breaking over rocks’.
Boyanup
Is a Noongar Aboriginal name, said to mean “a place of quartz” – “Boya” means “rock” or “stone”.
Bundamba
The origin of the suburb name is from the Yugarabul Aboriginal language meaning place of the stone axe.
Burraneer
Is an Aboriginal word meaning point of the bay.
Caboolture
The name “Kabultur” is derived from the Yugarabul dialect (Kabi Aboriginal people) meaning “place of the carpet snake”
Cammeray
Named after the Cammeraygal, the Aboriginal tribe of the North Sydney area.
Canberra
Thought to derive from the word Kambera or Canberry which is claimed to mean “meeting place” in the old Ngunnawal language, one of several Indigenous languages spoken in the district by Aboriginal people.
Coodanup
Of unknown origin – although considered a Noongar word – is the local name for the mouth of the Serpentine River.
Coolamon
The Aboriginal word for a basin-shaped wooden dish made and used by Australian Aborigines.
Coonawarra
Is an Aboriginal word meaning “Honeysuckle”.
Cooran
From guaran, meaning tall trees or Moreton bay bush.
Cootamundra
The traditional owners are considered to be the Wiradjuri, with the name probably deriving from their word guudhamang for “turtle”
Coraki
Derived from Bundjalung Gurigay, meaning The meeting of the waters.
Corrimal
Named after the Aboriginal Dreamtime warrior Kurimul
Dapto
An Aboriginal word – possibly from Dabpeto meaning “water plenty”,
Dimbulah
A local Indigenous Australian word for “long waterhole”, referring to the Walsh River that runs nearby the town.
Dongara
From Thung-arra, the local Wattandee people’s name for the estuary adjacent to the town, meaning ‘sea lion place’.
Dowerin
Either the Aboriginal word for the twenty eight parrot (Dow-arn) or “place of the throwing stick” (dower).
Dumbleyung
Coming from “Dambeling” which possibly means “large lake or inland sea” or “dumbung”, a game played with bent sticks and a hard piece of fruit.
Echuca
An Aboriginal name meaning “Meeting of the Waters” (the Murray and Campaspe Rivers ) .
Echunga
From a Kaurna word ‘eechungga’ which may mean either ‘a short distance’ or ‘close by’.
Elanora
Derived from an Aboriginal word meaning “home by the sea” or “home by the water”
Eneabba

From the aboriginal name of the nearby Eneabba Springs. The meaning of the word is “small water”.

Geelong
Derived from the local Wathaurong Aboriginal name for the region, Jillong, thought to mean “land” or “cliffs”.
Gerringong
Thought to derive from an Aboriginal word meaning “fearful place”
Gilgandra
The name is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning “long waterhole”
Gingin
Thought to mean “footprint” or “place of many streams”
Ginninderra
Derived from the Aboriginal word for the creek which flows through the district of Ginin-ginin-derry which is said to mean sparkling or throwing out little rays of light.
Giralang
Named after the word in the language of the Wiradhuri Aboriginal tribe of the Central West of New South Wales, meaning star.
Gnowangerup
The name of the townsite is Aboriginal, being derived from nearby Gnowangerup Creek and Spring meaning place where the mallee hen (Gnow) nests”.
Goodooga
Meaning, “Yam”. However it has been proposed that it derives from “guduu+ga”, ‘at the place of the Murray cod’ [guduu], rather than “gudugaa”, a species of yam
Goondiwindi
The name derives from an Aboriginal word meaning “the resting place of the birds”.
Grong Grong
An Aboriginal term meaning ‘bad camping ground’ or ‘very bad camping ground’.
Gulgong
Derived from the name used by the traditional inhabitants, the Wiradjuri, for ‘deep waterhole’.
Illawong
An Aboriginal word meaning ‘between two waters’, referring to the Georges and Woronora Rivers. Illawong was originally inhabited by the Tharawal and/or Eora tribes.
Indooroopilly
A corruption of either the local Aboriginal word nyindurupilli, meaning ‘gully of the leeches’ or yindurupilly meaning ‘gully of running water’.
Jamberoo
The town’s name is derived from an aboriginal word meaning ‘track’.
Jannali
An Aboriginal word, meaning the ‘Place Of The Moon’, originating from the people of the Northern Territory.
Jeebropilly
The origin of the name is from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘flying squirrel gully.
Jeparit
The name Jeparit is believed to be derived from a Gromiluk word meaning ‘home of small birds’.
Jerramungup
An Aboriginal word said to mean ‘place of upstanding yate trees’.
Jimboomba
An Aboriginal word meaning ‘Paradise on Earth’.
Jindabyne
Derived from an aboriginal word meaning ‘valley’.
Joondalup
Noongar Aboriginal word – possibly meaning either “place of whiteness or glistening’ or ‘place of a creature that can only move backwards’.    
Kalamunda
The word is derived from two Noongar words: kala meaning ‘home‘ and munda meaning ‘forest’ – therefore, ‘A home in the forest’.
Kaleen
The name means ‘water’ in the language of the Wiradhuri Aboriginal tribe of the Central West of New South Wales
Kalgoorlie
Derived from the Wangai word Karlkurla, meaning ‘place of the silky pears’.
Kambah
The name derives from Ngambri, the name of the clan that originally lived in the area before European occupation.
Karrabin
From the Bundjalung Aboriginal language meaning ‘red gum.’
Karratha
In the local Aboriginal language means ‘good country’ or ‘soft earth’.
Karuah
It is thought that the name means ‘native plum tree’.
Kirrawee
An Aboriginal word meaning ‘lengthy’.
Koo Wee Rup
It is from the language of the Bunurong Aboriginal people and believed to mean ‘plenty of blackfish’ or ‘blackfish swimming’.
Koorda
From a list of words obtained from a Noongar Aboriginal, the meaning being given as a ‘married person’.
Kowanyama
Kowanyama means ‘The place of many waters.’
Kununurra
In the Miriwoong language means “Big Waters” or “Big River’.
Kyancutta
Thought to be derived from the Aboriginal ‘kanjakatari’; kanja – ‘stone’ and katari – ‘surface water’, inferring water in rocks, or from a nearby hill ‘Kutta kutta’ – the local Aboriginal name for the ‘night hawk‘.
Kyogle
An Aboriginal Australian word meaning ‘plains turkey’s (bustard) egg’, a reference to the Scrub Turkey which is indigenous to the region.
Kurri Kurri
Comes from the local Awabakal language where it has a meaning similar to ‘the beginning’ or ‘the first’.
Larrakeyah
Named after the indigenous language group that have occupied the area since before European settlement, theLarrakia.
Manangatang
From an Aboriginal term – manang meaning ‘land’ and kaaiti meaning ‘water’.
Mandurah
The Noongar (or Bibbulmun) people, of the southwest of Western Australia, named the area Mandjar ‘meeting place’.
Maningrida
The name Maningrida is an Anglicised version of the Kunibídjiname Manayingkarírra, which comes from the phrase Mane djang karirra, meaning ‘the place where the Dreaming changed shape’.
Manjimup
From the Noongar Aboriginal words ‘Manjin’ – a broad-leafed edible reed, and up – ‘meeting place.
Maroochydore
From the Aboriginal indigenous Yuggera language word Muru-kutchi, meaning ‘red-bill’: the name of the black swan, commonly seen in the area.
Mareeba
In the language of the Muluridji people, Mareeba means ‘meeting of the waters’.
Millmerran
Believed to be derived from two words – meel meaning ‘eye’ and merran meaning ‘to look out’.
Minnamurra
Means ‘plenty of fish’ in the local Aboriginal dialect.
Mooloolaba
From the Aboriginal word mulu, meaning ‘snapper fish’, or mulla meaning ‘Red-bellied Black Snake’.
Moruya
From an Indigenous Australian word, mherroyah, meaning ‘home of the black swan’.
Kembla
An Aboriginal word meaning ‘plenty of game’.
Mudgee
From the Wiradjuri term Moothi meaning ‘Nest in the Hills’ or mou-gee meaning ‘contented’.
Mulgoa
From the Mulgoa people – who spoke the Dharug language – believed to mean ‘black swan’.
Mullaloo
Named after an Aboriginal word, believed to mean ‘place of the rat kangaroo’.
Mundubbera
Means either ‘Footsteps in the trees’ or ‘Meeting Place of the waters’ in the local Aboriginal language.
Murwillumbah
The name Derives from an Aboriginal (Bundjalung people) word meaning ‘camping place’ – from Murrie, meaning ‘aboriginal people’, Wolli, ‘a camp’ and Bab, ‘the place of’.
Nambucca
From a Gumbaynggirr word, ngambugka; meaning ‘winding or crooked river’, or ‘entrance to the waters’.
Nana Glen
Derived from the ‘Two-Tailed Lizard’ – Nana is an aboriginal name meaning ‘Two’.
Nannup
Of Noongar Aboriginal origin, meaning either ‘stopping place’ or ‘place of parrots’.
Narrogin
The meaning of the name is uncertain and could be ‘bat camp’, ‘plenty of everything’ or “place of water’.
Nerrigundah
The place name is derived from an aboriginal word for ‘camp where edible berries grow’.
Nowra
Pronounced Nowa Nowa by the Aborigines – is an Aboriginal word for ‘black cockatoo’.
Ongerup
Means ‘Place of the male kangaroo’ in the local Noongar language.
Ourimbah
From the Aboriginal word “Oorin” meaning “Belt of manhood” in which a stone axe was carried on hunting expeditions, and “Oorinbah” which is the bora ring or ceremonial ground in which the initiation ceremony of conferring the ‘belt of manhood’ was carried out.
Panania
Is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘sun rising in the east and shining on the hills’.
Parramatta
The Darug people called the area Baramada or Burramatta which means ‘head of waters’, ‘the place where the eels lie down’, or ‘eel waters’
Patchewollock
The name originated from two Aboriginal words: putje, ‘plenty’, and wallah, ‘porcupine grass’.
Perenjori
it is believed the name may be derived from the ‘Peranj-jiddee bush’.
Tanilba
Said to mean “place of white flowers” in a local Indigenous language, presumably a reference to the flannel flowers in the area.[
Tanunda

The town derives its name from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘water hole’.

Thirroul
The name is supposedly Aboriginal for ‘Valley of Cabbage Tree Palms’.
Tolga
Means ‘red mud’. The town was originally called Martintown, and grew out of a Cobb and Co staging post at Rocky Creek.
Toogoolawah
Derived from the Aboriginal words “dhoo” (a generic term for tree) and “goo/lawa”, meaning “crescent shaped” or “bent like a crescent moon”.
Toongabbie

Derived from an Aboriginal word, reported as meaning ‘place by the water’ or ‘the meeting of the waters’.

Towradgi
Towradgi is a corruption of the aboriginal word Kow-radgi meaning ‘guardian of the sacred stones’.
Tuggeranong
The name is derived from an Aboriginal – Ngunnawal – expression meaning “cold plains”.
Turramurra
An Aboriginal word meaning ‘high hill’ or ‘big hill‘ – The aboriginal reference of high hill covered the range from Pymble to Turramurra.
Uralla
From the language of the local Aniwan tribe. Uralla described a ‘meeting place’, or more especially ‘a ceremonial meeting place and look-out on a hill”.
Uraidla
The name may derive from the Kaurna words yurre ‘ear’ and the suffix denotaing ‘location’, -illa,
Wagaman
Named after the Wagiman Aboriginal tribe from present-day Pine Creek, in the Katherine Region of the Northern Territory.
Warragul

The town is named after an Aboriginal word meaning ‘wild dog’.

Warrawong
Two meanings are given for this aboriginal word – “a whiting’ and the ‘side of a hill’.
Wee Waa
This Aboriginal name means ‘Fire for Roasting’ from the language of the Kamilaroi people.
Werribee
Is an aboriginal name meaning “backbone” or “spine”.
Wilcannia
Is said to be derived from an Aboriginal term for either ‘gap in the bank where floodwaters escape’ or ‘wild dog’.
Windang
An aboriginal word meaning ‘scene of a fight’.
Wollongong
Believed to mean ‘seas of the South’ in the local Aboriginal language, referring to NSW’s Southern Coast.
Woolgoolga
It is believed that the name of the town derives from the word Weelgoolga, which was used by the local Aborigines to describe the area, and the ‘lilly-pilly trees that grew there.’
Woollahra
An Aboriginal word meaning ‘camp’ or ‘meeting ground’ or ‘a sitting down place’.
Woolloomooloo
Could be derived from either Wallamullah, meaning ‘place of plenty’ or Wallabahmullah, meaning ‘a young black kangaroo’.
Wombarra
Is an Aboriginal term meaning ‘Black Duck’.
Woonona
Derived from an Aboriginal – Tharawal people – word meaning ‘Place of young wallabies’.
Wonthaggi
From the Woiwurrung – Eastern Kulin which means ‘to drag, carry or pull with the wind’.
Woy Woy
Taken from the local Darkinjung Aboriginal people, means ‘big lagoon’ or ‘much water’.
Wujal Wujal
Set around the highly sacred waterfalls of Wujal Wujal the name means ‘many falls’ in the local language.
Wyong
An indigenous word meaning either ‘an edible yam’ or ‘place of running water’.
Yalgoo
Derived from the word Yalguru and.said to mean ‘”blood’ or ‘place of blood’,
Yamba
An Aboriginal word yumbah meaning a ‘rough edible shellfish the size of a man’s hand that clings to rocks and is similar to an oyster’.
Yanco
Wiradjuri aboriginal language word meaning ‘the sound of running water’.
Yanderra
From an Aboriginal word for ‘turpentine tree’.
Yarralumla
From the indigenous Ngunnawal people’s term for the area – It is also spelt Yarrowlumla.
Yatala
From the Kaurna people which means ‘water running by the side of a river’,
Yerrinbool
An Aboriginal word for the ‘Wood Duck’.
Yowie
An Aboriginal name meaning ‘place of echoes’.
Yulara
The name is derived from local Aboriginal words for ‘ howling’ and ‘dingos’.
 
 

Aboriginal Words in Australian English

English Words of Australian Aboriginal Origin

Flora and fauna

  • ballart
  • bogong
  • boobook
  • brigalow
  • budgerigar
  • bumble tree – from Gamilaraay/Yuwaalaraay languages of North-West NSW
  • bunya – from Yuggera language of Brisbane region
  • burdardu
  • conkerberry – from Mayi-Yapi / Mayi-Kulan languages of Cloncurry region
  • coolabah – from Yuwaalayaay language of North-West NSW
  • cunjevoi – from Bundjalung language of Northern NSW
  • curara
  • gang-gang
  • geebung
  • gidgee
  • gilgie
  • gymea
  • jarrah
  • kurrajong – from Dharug language of Sydney region
  • kutjera
  • mallee – from Wemba-wemba language of Western Victoria
  • marri
  • midyim – from Yuggera language of Brisbane region
  • mihirung
  • mulga
  • muntries – from Gaurna language of Adelaide Plains, South Australia
  • myall
  • numt
  • pademelon
  • potoroo
  • quandong – from Wiradjuri language of Central-West NSW
  • quokka
  • wallaby
  • wallaroo
  • wallum – from Kabi Kabi language of the Sunshine Coast
  • waratah – from Dharug language of Sydney region
  • warrigal
  • wikt:bindii
  • witchetty
  • wobbegong
  • wombat
  • wonga
  • wonga-wonga

Animals

  • barramundi – from Gangulu language of Central Queensland
  • bettong – from Dharug language of Sydney region
  • bilby – from Yuwaalaraay language of North-West NSW
  • brolga – from Gamilaraay language of North-West NSW
  • bunyip – from Wathawurung language of Geelong Region, Victoria
  • chowchilla – from Dyirbal language of Tully region
  • corella – from Wiradjuri language of Central-West NSW
  • currawong – from Yuggera language of Brisbane region
  • dingo – from Dharug language of Sydney region
  • galah – from Gamilaraay language of North-West NSW
  • kangaroo – from Guugu Yimidhirr language of Cooktown region
  • koala – from Dharug language of Sydney region
  • kookaburra – from Wiradjuri language of Central-West NSW
  • quoll – from Guugu Yimidhirr language of Cooktown region
  • taipan – from Wik Mungkan language of Western Cape York
  • yabby – from Wemba-wemba language of Western Victoria
  • yowie – from Yuwaalaraay language of North-West NSW

Aboriginal Culture

  • alcheringa
  • billabong
  • boomerang
  • bombora (rapids–often used to describe offshore reef breaks)
  • boondie (hardened clump of sand; Noongar, W.A.)
  • bunyip
  • coolamon (wooden curved bowl used to carry food or baby)
  • corroboree
  • djanga
  • gibber (a boulder)
  • gilgai
  • gin (a racially offensive word for an Aboriginal woman)
  • gunyah
  • humpy (a hut)
  • kurdaitcha
  • lubra (a racially offensive word for an Aboriginal woman)
  • marn grook
  • mia-mia (a hut)
  • min-min lights (ground-level lights of uncertain origin sometimes seen in remote rural Australia)
  • nulla-nulla
  • turndun
  • waddy (a wooden club)
  • willy willy (dust devil)
  • woggabaliri
  • woomera
  • wurlie – a hut
  • Yara-ma-yha-who
  • yabber – to talk
  • yakka – work
  • yarndi (slang term for marijuana)

English Words but not of Australian Aboriginal Origin

  • bandicoot (from the Telugu, pandikokku a term originally referring to the unrelated bandicoot rat)
  • cockabully (from Māori kokopu)
  • cockatoo (from Malay)
  • didgeridoo (possibly from Irish or Scottish Gaelic dúdaire dubh or dúdaire dúth [both /d̪u:d̪ɪrɪ d̪u:/] “black piper” or “native piper”)
  • emu (from Arabic, via Portuguese, for large bird)
  • goanna (corruption of the Taíno iguana)
  • jabiru (from the Spanish)
  • nullarbor (Latin for no tree)

Aboriginal Words in Australian English

Some Aboriginal Words from New South Wales

Aboriginal word* Standard English
boorie boy, child
brotha/brother boy male friend, cousin, peer
bunji mate, close friend, kinsman
charge-up, charge drink alcohol
cooee come here
country land, home
deadly fantastic, great, awesome
dubbay, dub girlfriend, female partner
duri (doori) sex
gammon pretending, kidding, joking
gubba non-Aboriginal person
gunjies police
jarjum child
kumanjayi substitute name for a dead person
lingo Aboriginal language
mish mission
mob family, kin, group of people
moola money
pukamani funeral rite (also: ‘pukamani poles’)
rarrk cross-hatching design in art
shame, shamejob that’s embarrassing
shame embarrass, humiliate
sista/sister girl female friend, cousin, peer
Sorry Business ceremony and rituals associated with the death of a loved one
tidda girl female friend, best friend, peer
tjukurpa Dreaming; traditional law
yidaki didgeridoo
tuggi no
nawa yes
ji come
nobard go
nonaga-weyou What is your name?
tewg-ah bread
mondagai meat
marrah fish
burroo kangaroo
koona duck
ka au dee tobacco
yau yee fire
boanbal wood
warrang child
niara look there
yookun or coonjee hut
cumboo gullock bullock
Euroka the sun
Indeko The moob
   

* Note that this term stands for the multitude of Aboriginal languages which existed in Australia prior to invasion.

Aboriginal Words in Australian English

Some Words of Sydney Aboriginal Groups

Body parts

banarang blood
barangal throat
barrang belly
barrangal skin
biba rib
budbut heart
bugai fat (human)
bunang, guruk knee
bung buttocks
bura testicles
dalang tongue
damara hand
dara tooth
darra. leg, thigh
djarrung shoulder
djiwaxra hair
dyara bone
gabara head
gadlyang nape, neck
gadya penis
galgala smallpox-like disease
garaga mouth
garungan fingernail
gidigidi armpit
gumirri vagina
gunat hair matted with gum
guni faeces, shit
guri ear
mai eye
manuwi foot
marbal chest
midyung sore
nabang breast
naga liver
ngulun forehead
nuga nose
una elbow
walu shin
wiling lips
yarring beard
yilabil urine, piss

Kin relationships

babana brother
biyanga father
damali namesake
djambing sister-in-law
djurumin sister
durung son
duruninang daughter
dyinmang wife
gabami intermediary in disputes
gamarada friend, comrade
gulang widow in mourning
guman grandfather
guwalgalyung elder sister
guwalgang elder brother
mubi mourner at funeral
mugung lover
mugungalyi marital partner
mulamang husband
ngalaiya. ally
ngaramada younger brother
ngarangalyung younger sister
wiyanga mother

Human classifications

dyin woman
dyinuragang old woman
gaiyanaiyung old man
gaiyara name
garadyigan doctor
guragalung young man
guragalungalyung young woman
gurung child, baby
maiyal stranger
man fisherwoman (Also ghost)
mani fisherman
mula man
waruwi girl
wawura rascal
wiring female
wungarra boy
yura person

Language, mythology, ceremony

biyani curative operation performed by women to cure illness in other women
buduwai

ritual for preventing children from becoming thieves by scorching their fingers

djanaba laughter
gaxabara a dance
malgun woman with two joints of the little finger on her left hand removed ritually
man ghost (fisherwomen)
nanga mai dream
nanung piercing of the nasal septum to receive a bone or reed decoration
yabun music made by singing and beating time
yalabi daiyalung bora ceremony
yulang yirabadjang tooth extraction initiation ceremony for young men

Pieces of equipment

Aragung shield for war (large and solid)
bangada ornaments
bangala water-carrying vessel made from bark tied at each end
barra fishhook
barrin apron-style covering worn by un-narried girls made from spun possum hair tied in cords from a possum-hair belt
budbili possum rug
bumarit, wumarang, bumarang boomerang for fighting
damang cap
darral feather head ornament
duwal spear (short, with two barbs)
galarra fish harpoon (5-7m, with 4 barbs)
gamai spear (general name)

garradjun fishing line made from bark
gulima basket made from the knot of a tree
gunang spear for hand-to-hand combat
guni yamstick
gunya dwelling made by people
guwariya fish harpoon for children
muding fish harpoon (small)
Mugu stone hatchet
narawang paddle, oar
ngalangala club with a mushroom-shaped head
ngamul sinker for a fishing line made from a small stone
ngurra camp
nuwi canoe
wigun spear thrower made from heavy wood with one end rounded to be used as a digging stick.
Wuda, wudi club shaped from a long piece of wood thicker at one end
Wumara spear thrower about one metre long, with a shell scraper at one end made from a gadyan (Sydney cockel)
Yalga barb of a spear
Yung shield for parrying

Food, cooking and fire

djarraba firestick: gun
gadial smoke
ganalang, yuruga heat
garuma blubber
gili flame, light
guwiyang fire
ngarrun fat of meat
nggununy, badalya food

Landscape

bulga hill
buruwang island
dyiral shoal

ganing cave
garagula ebb tide
garrigarrang sea
gumirri hole
guru deep water
marrang sand, beach
muru road, path
nura country, place

Natural Items

badu water
bamal earth
barabung, minyimulung dew
baragula flood tide
birrung star
buduwangung Magellanic clouds
burra, garrayura sky
danagal ice
duruga falling star
garaguru cloud
giba stone
gura wind
gurbuny fog
guwara high wind
guwing sun
marri yanada full moon
mungi lightning
murungal thunder
walan, bana rain
warriwul. Milky Way
yanada moon

Local animals

badagarang eastern grey kangaroo
banggarai swamp wallaby
buduru potoroo
bugul, wurra mouse, rat
bungu flying phalanger
burumin possum
dingu dingo

djubi sugar glider
dun tail
ganimung Gaimard’s rat-kangaroo
marriyagang tiger cat
mirrin brown marsupial mouse
wanyuwa horse
wirambi bat
wiring female animals
wubin feather-tail or pygmy glider
wulaba rock wallaby
wularu wallaroo
wumbat wombat

Reptiles

bayagin leaf-tailed gecko
daning death adder
gan reptiles (snake, goanna or lizard)
malya, diamond python
ngarrang bearded dragon
wirragadar bandy-bandy

Birds

binit tawny frogmouth
binyang bird
bubuk boobook owl
buming redbill
bunda hawk
bunyarinarin masked lapwing
burumurring wedge-tailed eagle
diamuldiamul whistling kite
dyaramak sacred kingfisher
dyuralya brolga
gaban egg
garadi glossy black cockatoo
garrangabumarri pelican
garrawi sulphur-crested cockatoo
girra~girra seagull
gugurruk black-shouldered kite
gulina rufous night heron
gulungaga red-browed finch
guma king parrot
guriyal parrot, parrakeet

guwali shag, cormorant
marrigang sittella
mulgu black swan
munu. bill
murradjulbi singing bushlark
muruduwin fairy wren
ngunyul feather
ngurra birds’ nest
nuwalgang magpie goose
urwinarriwing eastern curlew
wangawang ground parrot
wilbing wing
wirgan noisy friarbird
wugan crow
wungawunga wonga pigeon

Fish & Sea Life

badangi Sydney rock oyster
baludarri leather-jacket
barung yellowtail kingfish
baruwaluwu dolphin
burra eel
dainya mud oyster
dalgal mussel
daringyan stingray
gadyan Sydney cockle
gaguni toadfish
garuma. black bream
gawura whale
ginaris shovel-nosed ray
guruwin grey nurse shark
magura fish
marumara zebra fish
walamai snapper
walumil Port Jackson shark
waragal mackerel
yaxa crab

Plants

bugi bark
burumarri brown gum
buruwan rock lily
daguba creek – brush cherry
dainun Port Jackson fig
daranggara cabbage tree
diramu tree
djirang leaf
djuraduralang bark used to make fishing lines
gadigabudyari Christmas bell
galun grasstree stem
gurgi bracken fern root
ganugan vegetable (edible)
midiny yam
gulgadya grasstree

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