Do you wear your cossie, swimmers or togs when you go to the beach? And when you're there, do you eat an icy pole, an iceblock or a by jingo? Do you say peanut butter or peanut paste?

What is a regionalism?

It's a word, phrase or expression used by a particular community in particular parts of the country. Australian English has two classes of regional words. For some items, speakers must use a regional term because there is no word that is used all over Australia. For example, there is no word used everywhere in Australia for the type of sausage known variously as Belgium sausage, Byron sausage, devon, Empire sausage, fritz, German sausage, luncheon sausage, polony, Strasburg, and Windsor sausage.

For other items there is a word used everywhere in Australia, but there is also a regional word. For example, sandwich is the standard term used everywhere in Australia for what the West Australians might call a piece.

Australian Word Map was set up by the ABC and Macquarie Dictionary as an interactive site to collect and record words and expressions from all over Australia. Thousands of people contributed, and the resulting database is a rich storehouse of Australian regionalisms. Part of the appeal and unique character of Australian Word Map is the bank of comments made by contributors which are listed below the definitions. Although contributions of regional items are no longer being accepted through the Australian Word Map site, it remains a valuable record. If you have a term you’d like to suggest which is peculiar to your region, please go to Add a word and submit it – we are always delighted to receive additions.

A word of warning about ‘taboo’ words

In the Macquarie Dictionary, words which are considered by some as taboo are clearly labelled to indicate this status. However, this practice has not been adopted in Australian Word Map because the vast majority of the data has been contributed by readers, and we felt it was important to retain the original tone of the material by not applying too much editorial comment.

Word search

To search for regionalisms – words, phrases or expressions used in particular parts of Australia – type your inquiry into the panel below and click on search. If your search is successful, a page listing the regionalism, its meaning, associated words and a map highlighting the places where the regionalism is used will be displayed. If you are looking for a phrase or compound which includes a particular word, try adding a question mark, ?, before and after the term, eg. ?sausage?.



Map search

To search for regionalisms – words, phrases or expressions used in particular parts of Australia – click anywhere on the map below to highlight a geographic region of your choice. You will then see a results page listing the regionalisms for that search area. You can click on any regionalism to view its definition.

The map below displays the Word Map Regional Language Divisions. Each division has a number and a corresponding name. Roll over the map to highlight the Australian Word Map Regional Language Divisions.





28. Australia 27. Northern South Australia 26. Far West New South Wales 25. Adelaide Region 24. Eyre and York Peninsulas 23. Melbourne Region 22. Gippsland 21. Northern Victoria 20. Western District 19. Central Highlands 18. Wimmera and Mallee 17. Tasmania 16. Perth and Region 15. Central West Australia 14. Northern West Australia 13. The Centre 12. Darwin and North Coast 11. West Central Queensland 10. Far North Queensland 9. North Coast 8. Central Coast 7. Brisbane Region 6. Central West New South Wales 5. South Coast and Southern Tablelands 4. The Riverina 3. New England District 2. Hunter Valley and North Coast 1. Sydney Region