Australian words for the backside: a light-hearted look

by Mark Gwynn

As a kid I was often told by my dad to ‘get off my date’ when he wanted me to get off the lounge and go outside, or to help with some chore. I was surprised to discover many years later, when I started working at the Australian National Dictionary Centre, that date was not a coinage of my dad’s but an established word in Australian English, meaning ‘anus’. Further exposure to Australian English at the ANDC revealed a number of colloquial terms with the same or a similar meaning.

bumsIt is not always easy to define some of these terms. The evidence can be vague about the exact body part referred to: is it the anus or more generally the buttocks? In the case of the word date, ambiguous evidence led editors of the first edition of the Australian National Dictionary (1988) to give it two meanings: ‘the anus; the vagina’. Later investigation concluded that the second meaning was a furphy.

Describing the derivation of such terms can also be tricky, and can lead to a fit of coyness on the part of the dictionary maker. Often there is no indication of the source of the term, although sometimes it is obvious: blot, dot, and freckle are self-evident. Date, on the other hand, seems to require some explanation. (Related to the dried fruit?) Sometimes a definition can suggest the reason for a word’s use, without a separate etymology; with this in mind, we once briefly tried defining date as ‘the anal pucker’!

In the following list of Australian terms I will let the quotations speak for themselves.

blot (a transferred use of blot ‘a dark patch’) First recorded in 1945.

He pushed me away and he gave me a kick up the blot. (W. Dick, Bunch of Ratbags,1965)

blurter (from blurt ‘to emit breath eruptively’) First recorded in 1967.

Righto, knackers, get your eyes off the boat. Or you might get a toe right up the blurter. (R.G. Barrett, Guns ‘n Rosé, 1996)

psycho 1bracket (probably from the shape of a pair of round brackets) First recorded in 1986.

Mr Wilson Tuckey … sought on a point of order to know whether … ‘wankers’ and ‘sticking a boot up the bracket’—were unparliamentary. (Australian, 26 November 1986)

bronze, also bronza (from the colour) First recorded in 1953.

He roared laughing and gave her a slap on the seat. ‘The biggest bronza in the world—and just think, you’re all mine.’ (D. Niland, The Big Smoke, 1959)

browneye The rude gesture of bending over and exposing one’s buttocks and anus.(from browneye ‘anus’) Often in the phrase to chuck a browneye. First recorded in 1978.

I haven’t laughed so much since me and Rory gave browneyes to a busload of rubbernecks. (Tracks, August 1978)

bunti, also bunthi, bunthie (perhaps from a  Queensland Aboriginal language) First recorded in 1977. 

Some of them were so cheeky. But sometimes out of sight of the mistress and master I would take my revenge and quietly smack my spoilt charges on the bunthie. (R. & J. Huggins, Auntie Rita, 1994)

clacker (specific use of clacker ‘that which clacks’, with reference to emitting wind) First recorded in 1967.

Talks about you, now. Day and bloody night. Thinks the sun shines out yer clacker. (T. Winton, Eyrie2013 ) 

date (probably a transferred use of date ‘a small brown oval fruit’: compare with blot above) First recorded in 1924.

To Hell with all conventions and the methods they dictate, You can keep your old procedure and ram it up your date. (Mess Songs and Rhymes of the R.A.A.F., 1945) 

ding (abbreviation of dinger; see next entry) First recorded in 1957.

Been sittin’ on our dings the last ’alf hour. (‘N. Culotta’ They’re a Weird Mob1957) 

dinger (perhaps in punning allusion to ring ‘anus’) First recorded in 1943.

‘Righto, you fellers. Where’s your tickets?’ ‘Up our dingers’, Loder snarled. (P. Pinney, Restless Men1966 )

dot (transferred use of dot ‘a small round spot or mark’) First recorded in 1959.zombie bums

She did not look or act like a real pro, although with so many amateurs around trailing their dots you could not always tell. (R. McKie Bitter Bread1978)  

freckle (transferred use of freckle ‘a small spot or discolouration’) First recorded in 1967.

I too believed that the sun shone out of Gough’s freckle. (B. Humphries, A Nice Night’s Entertainment, 1978)

ginger (abbreviation of ginger ale, rhyming slang for ‘tail’) First recorded in 1955.

Stone the crows! I’m sitting here with fifty thousand bags of flour under my ginger. Who grew it? Who milled it? Who brought it here? (J. Morrison, Black Cargo, 1955)

ort (of unknown origin) First recorded in 1952.

You’re a big bronzed Anzac sitting on your ort drinking free tea. (P. Pinney, Road in the Wilderness, 1952)

quoit, also coit (figurative use of quoit ‘a ring of iron, rope, or rubber used in deck quoits and similar games’) First recorded in 1941.

‘I think he needs a good kick up the coit’, says Cromwell. (J. Bailey, The Wire Classroom, 1972)

5 thoughts on “Australian words for the backside: a light-hearted look

  1. Bracket: that’s interesting. Cf Cockney phrase ‘A punch up the bracket’, meaning an uppercut to the jaw. Not immediately clear how the term migrated south!

  2. Very interesting! Love it. And I note that a couple of the words listed are from Aboriginal English varieties. My anecdotal experience is that Aboriginal English speakers are pretty good at maintaining non-English derived words for bum. The “Townsville Tiddas” from ABC’s Black Comedy use the word ‘moiyu’. Recently on NITV I caught another Queensland (of TSI heritage) say ‘din’ – 99.9% sure it was ‘din’ and not ‘ding’ that you have listed above. In Roper Kriol, most body part names are English-derived but not bum – it’s ‘garnda’. However, anus is ‘gurlya’ and a swear word, which ‘garnda’ isn’t.

    Coit, is a great one too, memorialised by Russell Coight of Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures fame, Glenn Robbins’ embarrassingly tragic outback aficionado character.

    Another marvel of Australian English for me is how on earth did the saying ‘Up ya bum’ for sculling a drink ever become a non-insulting thing to say? lol.

  3. Ding, Dinger, Ort might have a German connection. Ding / Dinger translate to ‘thing’ / ‘things’, and can be used in the sense of “Get up off your thing” as well as having slang uses for Ding: tool: penis; and Dinger: dicke / große Dinger: big boobs, so not much of a leap to arse for either. Ort translates as ‘place’, ‘location’, ‘site’ similar to dot or freckle.

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