Glossary [for Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, by C.J. Dennis]

[Editor: This glossary by C.J. Dennis was published in Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913).]


For the use of the thoroughly genteel.

Ar, an exclamation expressive of surprise, sorrow, joy, contempt, pity, etc., according to the manner of utterance.
Back Chat, impudent repartee.
Barmy, mentally deficient.
Barrack, to banter noisily; to shout vociferous insults or encouragement.
Barrer, to back the, to intervene; to accost.
Bender, a period of dissipation; a carouse.
Biff, to smite. Bash, to smite severely.
Billabong, backwater of a river or creek.
Block, the head. To lose or do in the Block, to become flustered or destrait.
Bloke, a male adult of the genus homo.
Bluey, blankets and other impedimenta of the bush traveller.
Blue-tongue, an ox-conductor’s assistant (From Blue, profane.)
Board, shearer’s workplace in a wool-shed.
Boko, the nasal organ.
Boshter, Bonzer, Bosker, adjectives expressing intense admiration; superlative; ineffable; delightful; champion; excellent, etc.
Boodler, a moneylender; a financier. (From Boodle, money.)
Break, to do a, to retire in haste; to retreat, i.e., break away.
Breast up, to approach eagerly.
Brums, inferior trinkets; imitation jewellery.
Buckley’s (chance), a forlorn hope.
Bundle, to drop the, to surrender; to give up hope; to become demoralized.
Bunk, to do a. [See Break.]
Billy (Billycan), a tin vessel for holding tea and other liquids.
Catterworms, weird reptiles found in the vicinity of shanties, q.v.
Champeen, champion.
Chuck, to relinquish; to give up.
Chuck off, to indulge in unpleasant sarcasm.
Chump, a fool; a dullard.
Chow, a native of far Cathay.
Chiack, vulgar banter; coarse invective.
Chap, any male person below the rank of a personage.
Chat, to address tentatively; to word, q.v.
Click, clique; set; push, q.v.
Cliner, a young person (female); a tart, q.v.
Clobber, raiment; vesture.
Clip, the wool of a season’s sheep-shearing.
Cobber, a boon companion.
Cop, employment; a job, q.v.
Cop, to seize; to acquire.
Cop (Copper), a guardian of the law, i.e., one who cops.
Coot, a person of no account (used contemptuously).
Cove, a chap or bloke, q.v.
Cow, a thoroughly despicable person, place, situation, thing or circumstance. A Fair Cow, an utterly obnoxious and otherwise inexpressible person, place, situation, thing or circumstance.
Crook, unwell; dishonest; fraudulent; spurious. Superlative, Dead Crook.
Crook, a dishonorable person. See Spieler.
Damper, unleavened bread baked in ashes.
Dash, to do one’s, to reach the limit of endurance; to meet one’s Waterloo.
Dawg, a contemptible person.
Dawg, to put on, to assume arrogance; to behave vainly.
Dead, in a high degree; very; extremely, e.g., Dead lively.
Dial, the human face.
Dilly, eccentric; erratic; half-witted.
Dirt, opprobrium; a mean speech or action.
Dot, off his, insane; barmy, q.v.
Dough, metal or paper currency.
Down, to take, to swindle; to outwit; to humiliate.
Drum [see Bluey].
Duck, to do a, [see Bunk].
Ear, on his, inebriated.
Fatville, the fabled abode of the Tories.
Fag, a cigarette.
Flat, a simpleton.
Fluff, bit of, [see Cliner and Tart].
Fly, acute; cunning.
Flush of tin, well supplied with dough, q.v.
Gilt [see Dough].
Glassy eye, a glance of cold disdain.
Graft, work; labour; toil.
Grip, [see Job].
Groggy, unsteady; dazed.
Guy, to do a, [see Duck].
Guyver, pretence; arrogance; dawg, q.v.
Handies, to play at, to hold hands in lover-like fashion.
Heading browns, tossing pennies, as in the occult game of two-up.
Hump, to carry, e.g., to hump the bluey.
Hump, [see Pip].
Humpy, a small but or cabin.
Intro., an introduction; a “knock down.”
Jag, Jamboree, [see Bender].
Jiffey, an infinitesimal period of time; half a jiff.
Job (Jorb), avocation; employment; situation.
Job, [see Stoush].
John, John Dunn, a member of the constabulary force, [see Cop].
Joint, a tradesman’s counter or place of business.
Jumbucks, sheep.
Kid, an immature member of the human race.
Kid, a bit of, a hoax; pretence; flattery.
Kid, to cajole; to flatter; to “pull the leg” (Aust.).
Langwidge, unrewarded eloquence.
Lash, severe stoush, q.v.
Leary, low; vulgar.
Lid, a head covering.
Little Lons., Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Australia.
Lurk, occupation; job, q.v.
Mash, an inamorata; a fiancee.
Mash, to woo; to make love.
Mag, vulgar raillery.
Maul, to embrace or fondle amorously.
Meet, an appointment; an assignation.
Mill, a pugilistic encounter. [See Stoush].
Mooch, to wander about aimlessly.
Mud, my name is, I am discredited, degraded; I am a nonentity.
Nark, a spy; a traitor; a spoil-sport.
Narked, intensely exasperated; overcome with chagrin.
Nobby, attractive; fashionable.
Nod, on the, gratis.
Office, a hint; a warning; innuendo.
Out, to render hors de combat. All Out, extended to full limit; in the last extremity.
Outed, utterly vanquished.
Peach, a very attractive young person (feminine).
Perish, to do a, to desire vainly; to starve.
Pile, a large quantity of tin, q.v.
Pip, an acute fit of despondency.
Pitch, to crool the, to frustrate; to interfere with one’s schemes or welfare.
Pink, strike me, an exclamation expressing surprise, e.g., Goodness, gracious!
Pole, up the, lost irretrievably; beyond redemption.
Point, to cheat; to strive for unfair advantage.
Poddy, a calf reared by hand.
Pot, the old, an irreverent appellation for the Pater.
Pull, to take a, to cease suddenly; to discontinue a habit or occupation.
Punch, to urge an ox team with a whip and sundry expletives.
Push, an organized band of blokes and coves with a sprinkling of coots.
Quid, one pound sterling.
Rag, to sky the, to throw up a towel in token of surrender (Prize Ring).
Rat, to desert; to draw out of an enterprize.
Ratty, excessively idiosyncratic.
Rabbit, to run the, to bear a jug, bottle, Billy, or other vessel to a licensed caravansary with the object of procuring liquid refreshment.
Red, to paint the town, to conduct, more or less publicly, a jag, bender or jamboree (q. v.) with the object of impressing the natives.
Ribuck, an exclamation signifying assent; very well; most assuredly.
Rile, to annoy exceedingly.
Roof, [see Lid].
Rub out, to disqualify (Horse racing).
Scrap, a fight with fists or with weapons. [See Stoush].
Set, to attack. To have Set, to have marked for vengeance or punishment.
Shanty, a hut; a bush inn.
Shine or Shyin’, admirable; almost boshter.
Shick, Shicker, [see Ear and Jag].
Show, to give a, to allow an opportunity.
Sight, to see; to observe; to tolerate.
Skite, to brag; a braggart.
Skirt, [see Fluff].
Sling off, [see Chuck off].
Smooge, to bill and coo; to caress; to make love.
Smooge, to flatter obsequiously; to practice servility. Smooger, a sycophant.
Snouted, contemned; maligned, regarded with spite.
Spieler, a cheat; a cunning rogue; a sharper.
Square, on the, honest; faithful. A Square Feed, a thoroughly satisfying repast.
Square an’ all, in reality; verily.
Squiz, a glance.
Stoush, fisticuffs. To Stoush, to strike with the fists. See, also Lash, Mill, Scrap, etc. Scrap is generic and may be applied to all violent conflicts, whether dogs fights, pitched battles or prolonged wars. Lash implies much brutality, and the employment of weapons not necessarily lethal. A Mill is usually a prize fight or glove contest. Stoush is a less orderly form of fistic combat; Job or Biff, usually implies a single blow.
Stretch, a term of reformatory treatment.
Strike, to meet; to discover; to encounter.
Strike, an exclamation expressing astonishment, etc.
Stuff, [see Dough].
Swig, a long, refreshing draught.
Tart, a more or less mature female of the genus homo. (It is regrettable that, amongst the lower orders, this appellation is frequently applied to a perfect lady.)
Tile, [see Roof].
Tin, [see Dough].
Tip, a hint; a prognostication. [See Office].
Toff, an exalted person; a member of the better class; a patrician.
Tom, [see Tart].
Treat, a, admirably; with enthusiasm; thoroughly; abundantly; e.g., “She magged a treat” (excessively). Tucker, provender.
Tucker-bag, a receptable for coarse fare.
Turn-down, to reject; to repulse.
Upper-cut, to strike with an upward movement of the arm.
Wowser, an ineffably pious person who mistakes this world for a penitentiary and himself for a warder; a kill-joy.
Word, to approach with fair speech; to accost; to chat, q.v.

Note. — Where a dash replaces a missing word the adjective “blessed” may be interpolated. In cases demanding great emphasis the use of the word “blooming” is permissible.

Cole’s Book Arcade Print, Howey Building, Cole’s Walk, Melbourne.

C.J. Dennis. Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, E. W. Cole, Melbourne, [1913], pages 195-200

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