Fair Dinkum – Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

G’day mate! Ready to take a trip down under and explore the Aussie idiom fair dinkum? It’s one of those terms that encapsulate the spirit of Australia, just as freedom might for the U.S. or tea for the Brits. So, grab a cold one, and let’s jump into the sunburnt world of fair dinkum.

Is Fair Dinkum Australian Slang?

Fair Dinkum – Meaning Origin

You bet your kangaroo it is! Fair dinkum is quintessential Australian slang. Although the phrase is primarily associated with Australia, you might also hear it used in the U.K., but far less frequently. Its usage is so common down under that it’s become a symbol of Australian speech.

Fair Dinkum Meaning Explained

Fair dinkum is a versatile term in Australian English that can mean genuine, honest, true or unquestionably good, depending on the context the person is working with. When used as a question, “Fair dinkum?” it can express disbelief, surprise or seek confirmation, kind of like “Really?” or “Seriously?”

I remember the first time I heard it. It was from an Australian exchange student that came to our school in grade five. I had to do a double-take and ask him to explain what it meant. 

Fair Dinkum Origin and Etymology

Fair Dinkum Ngram
Fair dinkum usage trend.

Like many idioms, the origin of fair dinkum is somewhat unclear. But it was found in print back in the late 1800s by Australian writer Thomas Alexander Browne when he wrote his book “Robbery Under Arms.” It also showed up in 1891 with Sidney Addy’s “Glossary of Words.”

It’s a strange term, but it stuck around for years and is still used today. However, you’re unlikely to find it in use outside of Australia.

Synonyms for Fair Dinkum

If you’re looking for alternative ways to say fair dinkum, try any one of these synonyms that hold similar meanings.

  • Genuine
  • Honest
  • True-blue
  • Straight as an arrow
  • Straight up

Fair Dinkum Examples in a Sentence

Fair Dinkum – Meaning Origin 1

Let’s take a look at this Aussie phrase in full context so you can understand how it’s meant to be used.

  • He’s a fair dinkum Aussie, born and bred in the outback.
  • Fair dinkum? Did you see a kangaroo hopping around in the city?
  • That bloke is as fair dinkum as they come. You’d be lucky to have him.
  • Jane won the lottery? Fair dinkum?
  • This is fair dinkum, the best homemade strawberry pie I’ve ever tasted.
  • Fair dinkum, mate, you did a great job fixing the car.
  • She’s a fair dinkum star in the making, and I see her going far.
  • I’m fair dinkum fed up with his lazy attitude and messy lifestyle.
  • Fair dinkum, this has been a tough few years for the whole world.
  • Are you going to hike through the outback alone? Fair dinkum?

To Wrap Things Up

The term fair dinkum is as Aussie as a kangaroo carrying a jar of Vegemite. It adds a splash of authenticity to your language, whether you’re praising someone’s honesty, expressing surprise or swearing the truth about something. So, go ahead and sprinkle a little fair dinkum into your conversations. No worries, mate, you’ll sound as genuine as a dinki-di Aussie!