Macquarie Dictionary



Australians love brevity. We are fond of shortening words. Perhaps the most famous example is the shortening of the Melbourne Cricket Ground to the MCG. But that wasn’t enough for Victorians, so they dropped the M and the C so the colossal stadium became simple the G. 

Today we want to look at the suffix –ie., which is used across the English-speaking world as an affectionate diminutive. Think of doggie, a dog, for example. In Australia, we have really taken to it and use -ie to create slangy forms of ordinary words where the sense of smallness is not present. Think, Aussie.

Seeing as Aussies have tried to weld an –ie onto the end of half the dictionary, we thought it best to pick out some of our favourites rather than try to list them all.

greenie is a conservationist. Now used worldwide, greenie was actually an Australian coinage. Although the association of green with environmentalism was first made in German politics of the early 1970s, and first appeared in English in the name Greenpeace, the addition of -ie to form a noun was an Australian contribution.

From green to the blue waters, a boatie is a person who owns and runs a small craft. While back on dry land, I’m sure you’ve been driven around by a cabbie: a taxi driver. 

There are so many more –ie words that we simply can’t list anymore but did you know that y is sometimes used in place of the –ie suffix, because, well it just makes sense doesn’t it? It’s also somewhat more pleasing on the eye. 

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.


Featured Articles