Macquarie Dictionary


Rough around the edges

This week’s blog is a bit rough around the edges. Do you know a roughie? That is, a rude or crude person. I’m sure we’ve all been a roughie at times. Another definition of roughie is a swindle or shrewd trick, as in, he put a roughie over Bill yesterday. 

Perhaps because of the convict roots of Modern Australia, Australian English contains a lot of slang words for swindle. Con is an obvious one, or con job: a practised confidence trick. Bilk is another. Dating back to the 17th Century, to bilk is to cheat, swindle or to evade a payment on a debt. 

Eelie is an obsolete Aussie underworld slang word for a confidence trick or the ruse by which a swindle is affected, probably extracted from eelerspee, an obsolete word for a con artist. 

Two more swindling words Australians might be more familiar with are dudded and rortYou can read more about rorts elsewhere on our blog, or you can speak to your local MP, har har. 

In case you’re feeling ripped off we’ll throw in a bonus word: slanter, a swindle or other piece of dishonest trickery. Slanter has been Aussie slang since the 1840s and is still common in the racing game. Originally spelt schlinter or schlente, it means counterfeit in South African English and comes from the Dutch or Afrikaans slenter.

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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