- The word bluey in Australian English has a variety of meanings. The most common is the swag (i.e. the collection of possessions and daily necessaries carried by a person travelling, usually on foot, in the bush) so called because the outer covering of the swag was traditionally a blue blanket (which is also called a bluey). The earliest citation in The Australian National Dictionary for bluey as a swag is 1878 where thebluey is humped as it was by the itinerant bush worker tramping the wallaby track in the works of writers such as Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. This image (an Australian stereotype) is epitomised in The Australian National Dictionary's 1899 citation for bluey: There's the everlasting swaggie with his bluey on his back who is striking out for sunset on the Never-never track. W.T. Goodge, Hits! Skits! and Jingles The association of the swaggie and his bluey continues in the dictionary's most recent citation: A swaggie suddenly appeared out of the bush, unshaven, with wild, haunted eyes, his bluey and billycan on his back. G. Cross, George and Widda-Woman (1981) That bluey is later transferred to luggage in general, is perhaps not surprising in an urban society which romanticises its `bush' tradition: Where's yer bluey? No luggage? J. Duffy, Outside Pub (1963) In Tasmania, a bluey or Tasmanian bluey is: a rough overcoat of blue-grey woollen, to be worn by those doing outdoor work during inclement weather. Canberra Times (19 Nov. 1982). The word has been used to denote another item of clothing - denim working trousers or overalls - but the citation evidence indicates (the last citation being 1910) that this usage is no longer current. More familiar is the use of bluey to describe a summons, especially for a traffic offence (originally printed on blue paper): Imagine my shock upon returning to a bluey at the end of the day. Choice (2 April 1986) Perhaps the most Australian use of bluey is the curious use of it to describe a red-headed person: 1936 A.B. Paterson, Shearer's Colt: `Bluey', as the crowd called him, had found another winner. (All red-haired men are called `Bluey' in Australia for some reason or other.) 1978 R.H. Conquest, Dusty Distances: I found out later that he was a native of New South Wales, called ' Bluey because of his red hair - typical Australian logic. A more literal use of bluey in Australian English is its application to fauna whose names begin with blue and which is predominantly blue in colour: 1961 Bulletin 31 May: We call them blue martins...Ornithologists refer to them as some species of wood swallow... They're all 'blueys' to us.
Australian idioms. 2014.