Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Australian Slang - Local Lingo

Unique Phrases - Memorable Quotes - D


DAD AND DAVE FROM SNAKE GULLY - radio drama series based on the On Our Selection stories of Steele Rudd

DAG – Someone who’s a bit of a nerd or unfashionable.

DAG - in rural areas: a wag or an amusing person; in cities, a dull or boring one

DAG - a wag in the crowd (WW1)

DAGGY - unfashionable

DAGGING - cutting away the flyblown wool from a sheep's backside

DAGWOOD DOG - frankfurter on a stick that is battered and deep-fried

DAISY CUTTER - anti-personnel bomb (WW1)


DAKS– Trousers

DAME NELLIE MELBA - the first Australian to win international fame on the stage

DAMPER - bushman's bread made of flour and water; cooked on campfire as thin cakes in a frying pan or on a flat stone in wood ashes

DANCING - method of robbery at the goldfields

DANDER - anger

DARBY KELL - cockney slang - darby kelly - belly

DARLING SHOWER - dust storm in the Riverina

DARLO - the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst

DARLO DROP - police brutality towards prisoners

DART - a scheme or racket; also known as a rort or lurk

DARWIN STUBBY - Northern Territory. Introduced by Carlton & United in 1958 with an 80 fluid ounce (2,270 ml) capacity

DAWN SERVICE - first commemorative event of Anzac Day is the Dawn Service at 4.30 am. This is about the time men of the ANZAC approached the Gallipoli beach 25 April 1915

DAZZA - nickname for Darren

DAZZLER - good looking person

DEACON SKINNER - dinner (soldier slang WW1)

DEAD BEAT - a derelict, a man down on his luck, stone-broke, beaten by fortune

DEAD-BIRD - meaning "a certainty", from pigeon-shooting, where the bird being let loose in front of a good shot is as good as dead

DEAD CENTRE OF AUSTRALIA - Geographic centre of mainland Australia - the Lambert Centre

DEAD CERT - a certainty; a sure thing

DEAD HEAD - a good for nothing

DEAD HEAD - one who stands about a bar to drink at the expense of others (Qld 1891)

DEAD HEART - The centre of Australia (from Ernest Giles' book of that title 1906)

DEAD HEART OF AUSTRALIA - Memoirs written by J.W. Gregory referring to Lake Eyre

DEAD LURK - to rob a house while the occupants were at church

DEADLY - excellent; strong

DEAD MEAT TICKETS - identification discs (soldier slang WW1)

DEAD NARK - unsatisfactory; or having a bad temper

DEAD NUTS ON - very fond of (Leland 1897)

DEADSET – true; exactly

DEADSET - an expression of wonderment; is that right?

DEAD RINGER - exactly the same

DEAD TO THE WORLD - sound asleep

DEAF AS A POST - hard of hearing

DEANER (DEENER) - A shilling (WW2); superceded by ten cent piece in 1966

DEAR - expensive

DEAR AUNTIE - a phrase signifying utter weariness or disgust (soldier slang WW1)

DEATH ADDER - machine gun (WW2)

DEBIL DEBIL - also Devil Devil - evil spirit at the bottom of a creek or waterhole

DECORATED PRIVATES - N.S.O.'s (soldier slang WW1)

DEEPSINKER - the largest sized tumbler or the long drink served in it, from deep-sinking a mining shaft (Morris 1898)

DEEP THINKER - reinforcement soldier who arrived late in the war (soldier slang WW1)

DEMOCRACY SAUSAGE - a colloquial name given to the sausages cooked and eaten as part of the Australian tradition of holding a fundraising sausage sizzle at polling places on election day.

DEMONS - prison slang for police

DERO - derelict homeless person

DERRICK'S SHOW - final assault on Sattelberg, New Guinea during WW2 became known as Derrick's Show after Victoria Cross recipient Tom Derrick's bravery during the battle

DERRY - to have a grudge; a feud. The phrase 'to have a down' on is sometimes varied to have a derry on (Morris 1898)

DERWENTER - ex convict from the River Derwent, in Tasmania

DESERT RATS - Rats of Tobruk. Australian Army soldiers who served in North African campaign WW2

DEUCE - sentence to jail for two months (criminal slang 1950s)

DEUCER - a shearer who can shear 200 sheep in a day

DEVIL-ON-THE-COALS - bushman's name for a small and quickly baked damper (Morris 1898)

DEVON - luncheon meat; called Fritz in S.A.; Polony in W.A.

DEVVO – Devastated

DIAL - face

DIBBER DOBBER - telltale; a person, often a child, who reveals secrets

DICE IT - throw it out!

DICKEN - disgust; doubt or disbelief (1921)

DICKHEAD - an idiot


DICKY - something of low quality or broken

DIDDLE - to cheat

DIDGERIDOO - a wind instrument that was originally found only in Arnhem Land in northern Australia

DIDN'T BAT AN EYELID - gave no reaction to news


DIGGER - Australian soldier ; also gold digger

DIGGINGS - residence; probably originated in the gold fields days

DIGS - the place you live

DILL - a simpleton or trickster's dupe. First used by C.J. Dennis in Sentimental Bloke

DILL BRAIN - idiot

DILLYBAG - Aboriginal term; small bag

DINGBAT - annoyed; crazy

DINGBAT - an army batman

DINGBATS - delerium tremens (DT's) (c 1920)

DING DONG - fine, swell (WW2)

DINGO - native dog that cannot bark; thus a treacherous man; a coward c. 1908

DINGO - compulsory trainee in the Militia (WW2)

DINGO'S BREAKFAST - no breakfast at all

DINGO FENCE - longest fence in the world. South Australia. Finished 1885

DINKUM - also fair dinkum; genuine; real; also hard work (an hour's hard dinkum - from Rolf Boldrewood, Robbery Under Arms 1882)

DINKUM OIL - authenticated news; the straight truth (WW1)

DINKY DI - genuine, authentic

DINKY RIDE - double up on a bike. Passenger

DINNER - lunch

DINTY - Is that not correct?

DIP OUT - be unsuccessful

DIPSTICK - loser; fool

DIRTY - angry about an injustice

DIRTY BIG - enormous. eg. dirty big truck

DIRTY STOP OUT - person who stays out all hours having a good time

DISH IT OUT - to serve roughly

DIVVY - divide into portion

DIVVY - The Store's famous dividend rewarded members for buying goods. Newcastle NSW


DO A MELBA - make repeated farewell performances

DOB - report someone to police etc

DODGER - bread (soldier slang WW1)

DODGIE - poor quality

DOE RAY ME - money

DOESN'T MISS A TRICK - doesn't miss an opportunity for advantage

DOG - detective (criminal slang 1940)

DOG ACT - cowardly, treacherous behaviour

DOG AND BONE - phone (rhyming slang)

DOGGED IT - didn't show up

DOGGEREE - Go on; go straight ahead (soldier slang WW1)

DOGLEG - primitive kind of fence made of rough timber (Morris 1898)

DOG ON THE TUCKERBOX - Historical monument located at Snake Gully, five miles from Gundagai

DOG'S BREAKFAST - a total mess; disorganised

DOG'S EYE - meat pie

DOG'S LEG - Stripe (Army 1945)

DOG WATCH - nightshift

DOING THE CLOCK - serving five years imprisonment in Long Bay Gaol

DOING IT COLD - serving a sentence for a crime of which you are innocent

DOING IT TOUGH - gaol term for having a difficult time of it

DOING SOL - solitary confinement (1893)

DOING THE LOT - also a full hand as in a full hand in poker - a sentence of life imprisonment (1946)

DOLE - unemployment payment

DOLE BLUDGER - on who is content to live off social security payments in contrast with one who is genuinely unemployed

DOING A BRADBURY - winning something against the odds, after Steve Bradbury's win at the Winter Olympics

DOING A BUNK - running away

DONAH - female companion; girlfriend

DONE A GINGER - robbed someone (criminal slang Sydney 1950s)

DONE HIS DASH - finshed up; lost opportunity

DONGA - Temporary shelter

DONKEY VOTE - ballot cast in an election where a voter ranks candidates based on the order they appear on the ballot paper

DONKEYS YEARS - a long time

DONE LIKE A DINNER - finished, over with, completed

DONNYBROOK - a fight (origin Irish)

DON'T COME THE RAW PRAWN WITH ME - Don't try to fool me (WW2). Attributed to Roy Rene (also known as 'Mo' of theatre partnership Stiffy and Mo)


DON'T KNOW THAT PERSON FROM A BAR OF SOAP - don't know them at all

DON'T PUT ON A PERFORMANCE - don't make a fuss


DON'T SLEW YOUR BREW - keep your mouth shut and don't do your block when in police custody (criminal slang 1950s)


DON'T YOU EVER LET A CHANCE GO BY, OH LORD - line from Bob Hudson's 1975 hit
The Newcastle Song

DON'T YOU WORRY ABOUT THAT - catch cry of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen

DONUTS - black circles on road made by vehicle

DOORSTOPPING - practice by journalists of conducting a brief interview of politicians at the entrance to a building

DOOVERLACKIE - referring to something you don't have a name for

DORA GREY - threepenny piece

DOROTHY DIXER - parliamentary question asked by a colleague to give the Minister the opportunity to deliver a prepared reply

DOSS - to sleep

DOUBLE BANKING - hooking on one or more additional bullock teams to assist in crossing a bog

DOUBLE D - short for double dissolution, the simultaneous dissolution of both houses of a parliament preparatory to an election

DOUBLE DUTCH - children's skipping game using two ropes

DOUGH - money

DOUGHY - soft; slow witted; slow to catch on; not very knowledgeable

DO THE DIRTY - do the wrong thing

DOVER - ration of bread (prison slang c 1893)

DOVER - a clasp knife by a maker of that name, once much used in the colonies (Morris 1898)

DOWN - a prejudice against, hostility to (Morris 1898)

DOWN - To come, or be down, is the phrase used in Aust. Universities for failing an exam (Morris (1898)

DOWN ON - angry with

DOWN THE CHUTE - to be found guilty in court (criminal slang 1950s)

DOWN THE GURGLER - wasted money, opportunity or effort

DOWN THE STREET - shopping street

DOWNUNDER - coming from Australia

DO YOUR BLOCK - lose your temper

DO YOUR DASH - go too far; lose out

DO YOUR LOLLY - lose your temper

DO YOUR NANA - lose your temper

DRAFT - to separate and sort cattle (Morris 1898)

DRAFTER - man engaged in drafting cattle

DRAG - sentenced to three months in jail (prison slang 1893)

DRAG THE CHAIN - lag behind

DRAW (to) - to vex, to infuriate

DRAWING A POSSUM - sending in a dog to draw a possum out of hiding

DREADNOUGHT - a shearer who can shear more than 300 sheep in one day

DRIBS AND DRABS - a little bit at a time

DRINK WITH THE FLIES - to drink alone in a pub

DRIP - fool

DRIZA BONE COAT - Unique Australian coat

DROGO - rookie (WW2)

DRONGO - loser, no-hoper; slow witted

DRONGO - name of a race horse that never won a race in 37 starts. 1920s

DROP - to have the drop on is to forestall, gain advantage over esp. covering with a gun (Morris 1898)

DROP A CLANGER - say something embarrassing or inappropriate

DROP BEAR - hoax featuring carnivorous version of a koala

DROP KICK - an idiot; not very smart

DROP THE BUCKET - to put the entire blame for an offence on someone else (criminal slang 1950s)

DROP YOUR BUNDLE - give up hope; surrender

DROVER - an experienced stockman, who moves sheep, cattle, and horses over long distances

DROVER'S DOG - one who owns no respect

A DROVER'S DOG COULD LEAD THE PARTY TO VICTORY - Bill Hayden after losing labour leadership

DROVING - driving or moving a herd or flock over a long distance.

DRUM - a brothel

DRUM - a bundle carried by a swagman as a roll strapped over the right should and under the left arm

DRUMMER - a lazy shearer; in the old days they used to be drummed out of the shed

DRUNK AS CHLOE - very drunk (1946)

DRUNK AS A SKUNK - blind drunk

DRY AS A DEAD DINGO'S DONGA - thirsty for alcohol

DRY-BLOWING - Western Australian term in gold mining (Morris 1898)

DRY HASH - tramp; sundowner(1887)

DRY HASH - one who will not shout for drinks (c. 1895)

DUCKBILL - platypus; sometimes also called Duckmole (Morris 1898)

DUCKS AND DRAKES - shakes (rhyming slang) - after a long drinking sessions

DUCKS ON THE POND - warning to men that women are around and to refrain from swearing, used in shearing sheds

DUCK THE SCONE - plead guilty before a Magistrate (criminal slang 1950s)

DUCO - paintwork on a car

DUD - a failure

DUDS - trousers

DUFF - to steal stock and alter the brand

DUFFER - a fool

DUFFER - unproductive shaft in gold mine

DUFFER - cattle duffer = cattle rustler

DUGONG OIL - oil obtained by boiling the superficial fat of a dugong. A substitute for cod-liver oil (Morris 1898)

DUG OUT - protective hole dug out of the sides of trenches (WW1)

DUKE - hand (prisoner slang c 1893)

DUMMY - pacifer for baby

DUMMY - selector used by squatters to acquire land (Morris 1898)

DUMMY - colloquial name for the grip-car of the Melbourne trams (Morris 1898)

DUMP - centre struck out of the holey dollar. The holey dollar was worth five shillings, and the dump fifteen pence

DUMP - to press closely; applied to wool. Bales were often marked not to be dumped (Morris 1898)

DUMPER - large strong wave in surf that pushes the surfer to the bottom

DUNGAREE-SETTLER - poor Australian settler so called from their frequently clothing themselves and families in blue Indian cotton known as Dungaree (Morris 1898)

DUNNY - outside toilet in a small outhouse at the back of the house used before the septic system

DUNNY MAN - council worker who collected toilet pans and transferred them on his shoulder to the dunny truck

DUNNY ROLL - toilet paper

DUNNO - don't know

DURREY - a cigarette you roll yourself

DUST - slang for flour (Morris 1898)

DUST-DEVIL - small whirlwind; also called willy-willy and cock-eyed bob

DUST UP - a fight

DUTCH PEGS - legs (rhyming slang 1900s)