Today I described a less-than-ideal car to a colleague, and she labelled it a “brumby”. I thought this was very unusual, so I have checked for the term in many Australian slang books and I can’t find it listed anywhere. I would have usually labelled such a mechanical battler as a lemon or a bomb.
One could say it “Handles like a bag of shit tied with a piece of string in the middle” (Howey, 2012, p. 17).
I couldn’t find brumby listed for “dud car”, only as a “wild horse, similar to a mustang” (Tuffley, 2012, p. 11), a “wild outlaw horse” (McCulloch, 2010, p. 8) “…especially one descended from runaway stock.” ( Lambert, 2004, p. 30).
A great project about Australian words is the Ozwords blog, they recently featured the distinctly Canberra words “guvvie” and “ex-guvvie”, I hadn’t realised it was a regional term.
Here are some Australian slang words/terms I wish I hadn’t learnt:
Bondi cigar = Turd in the water (Lumsden-Ablan & Ablan, 2011, p. 10)
Rat coffin = A meat pie (Hunter, 2004, p. 87)
Unit = Big muscle man (Lumsden-Ablan & Ablan, 2011, p. 68)
Mystery bags = Sausages, so named because offal is sometimes used as a bulking agent. (Tuffley p. 36)
Bride’s nightie = A level of great speed. ‘He took off like a bride’s nightie.’ (“Blind Freddy” & Miller, 1988, unpaged)
Yonnie = Skimming stone (Lumsden-Ablan & Ablan, 2011, p. 74)
A friend said that brumbies were imported cars with a questionable reputation, so perhaps it is just a localised term. After writing all this and feeling thoroughly confused, I think I may have misheard, as I’ve now found a listing for:
Brummy = inexpensive; of poor or inferior quality (Australian slang, 2008 p. 41).
I guess my hearing is a bit brummy, ay (a word used at the end of a sentence, Lumsden-Ablan & Ablan, 2011, p. 7).
(2008). Australian slang. Camberwell, Vic : Penguin books
Blind Freddy. & Miller, Dennis. (1988). The Australian dictionary of insults and vulgarities. Castle Hill, N.S.W : Peter Antill-Rose and Associates
Howey, Andrew. (2010). Aussie slang pictorial : what’s it like mate. Melbourne, Vic : Brolga Pub
Hunter, Jenny. (2004). The true blue guide to Australian slang. Frenchs Forest, NSW : New Holland Publishers
Lambert, James. (2004). Macquarie Australian slang dictionary : complete & unabridged. Macquarie University, N.S.W : Macquarie Library
Laugesen, Amanda. (2013, May 22). Canberra word: guvvie (and ex-guvvie). Retrieved from http://ozwords.org/?p=4586
Lumsden-Ablan, Melanie. & Ablan, Roque Bo. (2011). Oz’isms : a tourist’s guide & a giggle : Australian ‘fun’etic slangwich : it’s not wat ya say it’s ‘ow ya say it–. Gordon, N.S.W : Sagamore
McCulloch, Marie. (2010). ‘Ripsnorter’ : book of Aussie words & sayings. [La Trobe, Tas.] : Marie. I. McCulloch
Tuffley, David. (2012). Australian slang : a dictionary. [Australia] : Altiora Publications
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