Macquarie Dictionary


Aussie Slang: Playing by Rafferty’s rules

This week we are playing by Rafferty’s rules. 

Rafferty’s rules has been part of Aussie slang since at least the 1910s. The phrase, a play on the Irish surname Rafferty, is a way to say you aren’t playing by any rules at all. 

The word is probably an attempted slur against Irish immigrants who were arriving in Australia during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, yet as the ABC has shown, many common Australian slang phrases have their origins in slang words brought here by those Irish people. There is also some debate over whether words such as larrikin and phrases like your shout, were also coined by Irish settlers. 

You can explore more Aussie slang in our Australian Word Map.

Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.

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