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The Budgy Smuggler

We’ve been here just over a month. But already I believe I have found the most Australian slang term possible.

First, behold the budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus):


The parakeet, to Americans. It is native to the Australian outback where it lives in big, loud, colorful flocks.

As the rule goes, any noun in Australia longer than two syllables can be shortened by taking the first syllable and adding an –ie or –y to the end. Barbeque becomes barbie. Mosquito is mozzie. Breakfast is brekkie. Football (all three kinds) becomes footy. Naturally, to the Australian, the bugerigar becomes a “budgy.”

The entire east coast of Australia is rightfully known for its beaches. Beach wear, of course, is quite ingrained in the culture here. The default look for casual bathing is ‘surfer’–board shorts or a wet suit are the standard uniform.

If there is anything that Australian men are supposed to be, it’s manly. A decent amount of ruggedness is quite expected. Like in much of the U.S., men who appear to spend an inordinate amount of time (read: any time at all) concerned with how they look are viewed with suspicion.

So if you are at the beach wearing what we Yanks would call by the generic trademark term “Speedo,” the men’s swim brief, then you are an outsider (possibly *gasp* European) worthy of at least a bit of a light-hearted verbal jabbing.

Put it all together, and you get the Aussie term for this garment…

The budgy smuggler.


It’s Aussie slang for a native Aussie bird, ribbing the swimwear of such a man outside the Aussie standard of masculinity, all wrapped up in a cheeky and oh-so-Australian dick joke. A country’s language, wildlife, and attitude towards gender and self-confidence, all summed up in one term. The best part is that this is the default term. Locals use it without batting an eye. Newscasters use it on TV. Even on kids, they’re still budgy smugglers.

The good news is you can order your own.


About theacademicsabroad

Rusty and Ali are a couple of nerds who moved to Australia to go on adventures. Oh, and work. :)


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September 2012
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