Macquarie Dictionary


What a rort.

This week we are investigating a rort, that is, a trick, lurk, or underhanded scheme: a confidence trick. We have looked at this before through the eyes of then Editor, Sue Butler.

As a verb, rort means to swindle or dupe. Part of Aussie slang since at least the 1910s, rort is a backformation from rorter. It is now commonly used in reference to election rigging, embezzlement, and other dodgy practices indulged in by the nation’s movers and shakers. In this sense, the word is hardly slang any more but carries serious implications for anyone who finds their face plastered on the front page of a newspaper with rort written above their heads. 

rort is all about manipulating the system to gain a wrongful advantage. Hence a racehorse whose form has been kept secret is known as a rort horse, or a smokie

Rort can also be used to describe a job that’s a bit of a bludge, as in nice rort you’re on here.

We also discovered an outdated definition of rort from across the Tasman Sea. Yes, this is the Aussie Word of the Week but indulge us for a moment. In NZ, rort has formerly referred to sexual intercourse. We can’t help but laugh that while the Kiwis are having a fantastic time rorting, Aussies are having less fun getting rorted.

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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