- Jumbuck is an Australian word for a 'sheep'. It is best known from Banjo Paterson's use of it in Waltzing Matilda. The two earliest appearances of the term show Aborigines using it in pidgin English: 1824 Methodist Missionary Society Records: To two Brothers of mine, these monsters exposed several pieces of human flesh, exclaiming as they smacked their lips and stroked their breasts, 'boodjerry patta! murry boodjerry - fat as jimbuck!!' i.e. good food, very good, fat as mutton. 1842 Port Phillip Patriot 19 July: The villains laughed at and mocked us, roaring out 'plenty sheepy', 'plenty jumbuck', (another name of theirs for sheep). The origin of the word is not known. It may possibly be from an Aboriginal language, or it may be an Aboriginal alteration of an English phrase such as jump up. Some suggested etymologies are very fanciful indeed. In 1896 a writer in the Bulletin suggested: The word 'jumbuck' for sheep appears originally as jimba, jombock, dambock, and dumbog. In each case it meant the white mist preceding a shower, to which a flock of sheep bore a strong resemblance. It seemed the only thing the aboriginal imagination could compare it to. Whatever the case, jumbuck was a prominent word in the pidgin used by early settlers and Aborigines to communicate with one another, and was thence borrowed into many Australian Aboriginal languages as the name for the introduced animal, the sheep. It also found its way into Australian English as a word for `sheep': 1847 Melbourne Argus 22 October: Shearing is the great card of the season, and no settler being the owner of jumbucks can give a straight answer upon any other, than this all absorbing topic. 1981 P. Barton, Bastards I have Known: My favourite was a little grey mare that... knew more about handling sheep than most sheep dogs. She sensed tthe first day I was on her that I was a novice with the jumbucks.
Australian idioms. 2014.