Australian Language: We’ve Got A Word You Haven’t!

Yes, here in Australia and New Zealand we have a word that you don’t. In fact I’m pretty sure we are the only countries in the world that have this word. It’s not a swear word, the police use it all the time. In these parts, it is regarded as a “proper” word.

What is it? Well, let’s play a game. When I tried looking this word up in an online dictionary, here’s what they said….

First, when I looked up the verb, they said: No results found for xxxx:

Did you mean hon, Holon, Hoom, goon, Hoo, Oon, horn, shoon, -oon, Doon, Hool, Roon, Woon, boon, coon or Hoorn?

Then, when I tried to look up the noun, they said: No results found for xxxxing:

Did you mean horning, Nooning, hooding, hoofing, hooking, hooping, hooting, mooning, zooning, Herning, hinging, hoboing, phoning, honking or hominghoning?

Got it yet?

Our Australian word which you don’t have is “hoon” or “hooning”.

Wikipedia explain it beautifully…

“Hoon is a derogatory term used in Australia and New Zealand to refer to a younger person who engages in loutish, anti-social behaviour. In particular, it is used to refer to one who drives in a manner which is anti-social by the standards of contemporary society, that is, fast, noisily or dangerously.

While generally applied to automobiles and other road vehicles, anti-hooning legislation also targets hooning behavior wherever it occurs, including motor boats. Hoon activities can include speeding, burnouts, doughnuts or screeching tires. Those commonly identified as being involved in “hooning” or street racing are young, predominantly male although increasingly female drivers in the age range of 17 and 35 years.”

Where did this word come from…..

“Linguist Sid Baker in his book The Australian Language suggested that “hoon” (meaning “a fool”) was a contraction of Houyhnhnm, a fictional race of intelligent horses which appears in Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.”

And it’s status in Australia…….

“The term “hoon” has obtained a semi-official use in Australia, with police and governments referring to legislation targeting anti-social driving activity as “anti-hoon laws”.”

Here in Australia, a program called “Today Tonight” did an article on it and said there has been an explosion in hooning recently, describing those that do it as “rat bags”. They suggested it may be Australia’s fastest growing motor sport, whilst explaining the big new thing that hoons like to do which is called “drifting”.

No wonder the government here has made it so hard for youngsters today to pass their tests. I discussed this in a post way back. I’m not sure how hard it is to pass your driving test in other countries these days, but here in Australia it’s pretty tough. You can read about that in my post on “beating the boy racers“.

But clearly, we are not beating the boy racers, they are continuing to do their thing. Rat bags! So it’s easy to see why Australia has such a bad road safety record, as I explained in my post about Australia versus England: Road safety.

So what is drifting?

It’s kind of explained in this marvellous 53 second video. You’ll see a little example of the car “drifting”. Not a great example, but it has a good ending. Ahhh! We all love a good ending, don’t we?

Unlike Formula One racing, which involves an enormous financial commitment, hooning is accessible to everyone. You see, hooning is not about the money, it’s about the skill, the achievement and the adoration of the watching crowds…..

But more than anything, hooning is about sheer stupidity! After all, hooning kills, and it often kills the innocent.

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Vicki June 18, 2016, 6:22 am |

    Until the addition of the boy racer behaviour I’d have said the Scottish term Ned (Non-Educated Delinquent) or the English Chav would be an equivalent.

    • BobinOz June 18, 2016, 10:36 pm |

      Ah, we’ve got a different word for that, ours are called bogan’s.

  • john burton February 6, 2014, 6:56 am |

    we have a similar thing over here but seeing as most of our cars are fwd not rwd drifting is nearly impossible. what the numpties tend to do is go down to mcdonalds car park and put the plastic trays under there back wheels and leave the handbrake on.
    another favourite thing for the boy racers to do is erm race on the road.

    • BobinOz February 6, 2014, 5:35 pm |

      Yes, they might not be called the same as they are called here, but they are the same everywhere. Boy racers.

      Big Mac needs to put a stop to that 🙂

  • Shane Backx September 13, 2013, 6:57 pm |

    Mate of mine in Sydney( who comes from Westerham in Kent,) reckons the English equivilent is an Essex boy.

    • BobinOz September 16, 2013, 1:54 pm |

      Well I can’t go along with that theory, being from Essex myself. And being a boy 🙂 We are all perfectly well-behaved in that county.

  • Terry November 24, 2011, 11:22 pm |

    Allowing all Australians a better way of expressing road rage!

    Courtesy towards their fellow drivers, consideration for others and basically just doing the right thing is all that is required to stay off the ‘Dob-a-Driver’ Database….. not too much to ask!

    A notepad in the centre of Australia………

    • BobinOz November 28, 2011, 9:26 pm |

      It’s a nice idea, but it will never beat winding down the window, shaking your fist and shouting #@*&%!!!!

      Although I’m not recommending anyone does that:-)

      • Terry December 2, 2011, 11:41 am |

        Agreed….. ‘ but shaking your fist and shouting #@*&%!!!! ‘ can unfortunately get you into trouble if you do it to the wrong person, therefore the reason for ‘Dobadriver’, to allow an outlet for your frustration, a note about the incident so they don’t get away with it scott free (it’s on the Net for all to see) and maybe hold them accountable for their actions. Even though some may see it as an achievement, somewhere down the track it may come back to bite them!…… It’s more about the repeat offenders than the once off events (those records are really there for general interest to others)…….. Thanks for your comments though as we all have different views about various issues and that’s the way it should be.


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