Macquarie Dictionary


No barney in the bar

A barney is an argument or a fight. It is thought to have come across from a British dialect, though it isn’t certain how exactly it came to be.

The word is also part of Polari, a slang language popular in British theatrical and comedy circles, particularly gay circles, in the 1960s. Polari was spoken mainly in the United Kingdom, but made the jump to Australia in the 1960s and 70s as well.

There was no barney in the bar because there was a fight in the backyard, and that claimed the attention of all the customers. –HENRY LAWSON, 1907.

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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