Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Australian Slang - Local Lingo

Unique Phrases - Memorable Quotes - R


RAAFIE – an Air Force person

RABBITER - a man who lives by trapping rabbits or who is employd to clear stations from them (Morris 1898)

RABBIT KILLER - quick chop/hit at the nape of neck with side of hand. Used as a term in boxing

RABBITING ON - talking endlessly

RABBIT PROOF FENCE - Western Australia. Completed 1907

RABBITOH - man who sold rabbits (for eating) from his cart

RACK OFF – go away. Exclamation of dismissal

RACK OFF HAIRY LEGS - go away, leave!

RAFFERTYS RULES - no rules at all

RAG - five pound note (prison slang c 1893)

RAGE - party; have a good time

RAGER - an old and fierce bullock or cow that did not fatten (Morris 1898)

RAG-TIMERS - men under sentence of six months in prison (Baker)

RAINBOWS - soldiers who came out after the war storm was over (soldier slang WW1)


R.A.N. - Royal Australian Navy, c. 1911 consisted of little more than old colonial gunboats and three destroyers. Once referred to as a 'tin pot navy'

RANGA - offensive term for red headed person

RAPT – Very happy

RAT BAG - cheeky, unpredictable person

RATBAGGERY - nonsense, eccentricity, absurdity

RATSHIT - really bad

RATS OF TOBRUK - Australian soldiers who held the Libyan port of Tobruk against the Afrika Corps, during and after the Siege of Tobruk in World War II

RAW PRAWN, (DON'T COME THE) - asking too much of someone or don't try to take advantage of someone

RAZOO - non existing coin; without a razoo means to be broke

RAZOR GANG - violent criminal gang in Sydney

RAZOR GANG - government committee to reduce spending

READY UP - something that is prepared with an object(Morris 1898)

RECKON – believe

REDBACK - spider

REDHEADS - Australian brand of matchsticks

RED LOT - gold watch and chain (criminal slang 1925)

RED NED - cheap red wine

RED RATTLERS - Old Sydney train carriages


REINSTOUSHMENTS - Reinforcements (WW1)

RELLIES – Relatives

REMEMBRANCE DAY - Observed on 11 November to recall the end of hostilities of First World War on that date in 1918.

REMITTANCE MAN - shady Englishman usually of good family sent out to Australia and paid an allowance by his family so long as he remained

RETROSPECTIVE BITTERNESS - "It is I believe, a simple but sometimes forgotten truth that the greatest enemy to present joy and high hope is the cultivation of retrospective bitterness" - Speech delivered by Sir Robert Menzies at the United Nations General Assembly 5 October 1960

REV-HEAD - car enthusiast, usually male


RIGHT HANDER - strike across the face with an open right hand

RIGHT INTO MY BARROW - just what I want



RING - call or phone

RING (to) - to patrol round and round cattle

RING BARK - to kill a tree by stripping off a ring of bark around the tree

RINGER - fastest shearer in the shed

RING IN - substitute

RING NECK - the equivalent of Jackaroo, a term used in the back clocks in reference to the white collar sometimes worn by a new Jackaroo (Morris 1898)

RINGS, (to run rings around) - to beat out and out

RIP - a stretch of fast moving water which takes swimmers and surfers out to sea

RIP OFF - item that costs more than it should

RIPPER– excellent

RIPSNORTER - excellent

RISING SUN - badge worn on the cap and collar of all Australian soldiers

ROAD TRAIN - truck used in rural Australia. Prime mover plus two or more trailers

ROARING HORSETAILS - a slang name for the Aurora Australis (Morris 1898)

ROBBERY UNDER ARMS - A terms used in court to describe charges against bushrangers

ROBBERY UNDER ARMS - A famous book set in 19th century Australia about convicts and bushrangers written by Australian poet and novelist Thomas Alexander Browne, pseudonym Rolf Boldrewood

ROCK AND ROLL - dole (rhyming slang) - he's on the rock and roll


ROCKET ROD - Rod Laver, champion tennis player

ROCK HOPPER - fisherman on coastal rocks

ROCK LOBSTER - crayfish

ROCK UP - turn up unannounced

ROCKS IN YOUR HEAD (TO HAVE) - to be unwise

ROCKS PUSH - Also The Push. Larrikin gang in Sydney in 1890 s

ROCK SPIDER - a thief who steals from the handbags of couples sitting in parks (criminal slang 1950)

ROGUE - one shilling piece

ROGUE'S CAT - whip with nine thongs as thick as the tip end of the little finger. Each thong had several knots with lead inside. (cat o nine tails). Sydney 1826

ROLL UP - gather for a meeting (goldfields)

ROLL YOUR OWN - making your own cigarette

ROLLED - robbed a person (criminal slang 1950s)

ROLLED GOLD - genuine or first class

ROO - kangaroo

ROO BAR - bar fixed to the front of a vehicle to protect it if a kangaroo is hit. Also bull-bar

ROOK, (to) - to take down (Digger Smith, C.J. Dennis)

ROONED - ruined. We'll all be rooned said Hanrahan , quote from iconic poem Said Hanrahan

ROOT - crude term for sex

ROOT FOR - barrack for a team

ROOTED – tired; also bushed or shagged out

ROOT UTE - panl van with a mattress for sex

ROOTY - a route march (soldier slang WW1)

ROPING POLE- a long pole used for casting a rope over an animal's head in the stockyard (Morris 1898)

RORT - scam; also having a good time


ROSEMARY - Rosemary is a symbol of remembrance. It is traditional on Anzac Day to wear a sprig of rosemary pinned to a coat lapel

ROSY RED - bed

ROTHBURY COAL MINER'S STRIKE - in November 1929 police opened fire in the crowds wounding five and killing one miner Norman Brown

ROUGH AS BAGS - a coarse person; ill-mannered

ROUGH AS GUTS - vulgar; uncouth

ROUGH END OF THE PINEAPPLE - raw deal; getting the rough end of a deal; poor treatment

ROUGH END OF THE STICK - bad side of a deal

ROUGH NUT - unsophisticated person

ROULETTES - Royal Australian Air Force's aerobatic display team established in 1970

ROUSEABOUT - odd job man on station esp. shearing time

ROWDY - a troublesome bullock or horse (Morris 1898)

ROZZER - policeman (1920s)

RUBBADEDUB - or rubbity dub - a pub or bar (rhyming slang) (WW2)

RUBBER DUCKY - Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) introduced into Australia in the 1970s

RUG UP - dress warmly

RUG RAT - child

RUM JAR - type of artillery shell (soldier slang WW1)

RUM REBELLION - an uprising on 26 January 1808 in which William Bligh Governor of New South Wales was deposed by members of the New South Wales Corps

RUN - cattle station

RUN A BANKER - flooded river or creek

RUN AROUND LIKE A CHOOK WITH IT'S HEAD CHOPPED OFF - race around getting nowhere

RUN LIKE A HAIRY GOAT - perform badly in race

RUNNERS – trainers, sneakers

RUN OFF YOUR FEET - extremely busy

RUN RINGS AROUND - defeat another by physical prowess or intelligence

RUSH - to stampede cattle, making it easier to isolate and steal; either by bushrangers or aborigines

RUST BUCKET - old car

RYBUCK (RIBUCK) - correct or genuine. Jewish origin

RYBUCK - feeling in good spirits

RYBUCK SHEARER - expert shearer