galah


galah
The word galah is a borrowing into Australian English from the Aboriginal Yuwaalaraay language of northern New South Wales. In early records it is variously spelt as galar, gillar, gulah, etc. It is first recorded in 1862 in J. McKinlay's Journal of Exploration in the Interior of Australia: `A vast number of gulahs, curellas, macaws... here'. The bird referred to is the grey-backed, pink-breasted cockatoo Eolophus roseicapillus, occurring in all parts of Australia except the extreme north-east and south-west. It is also known as the red-breasted cockatoo and rose-breasted cockatoo. Some early settlers use the galah as food. In 1902 the Truth newspaper reports: 'The sunburnt residents of at that God-forsaken outpost of civilisation were subsisting on stewed galah and curried crow'. Some writers report that galah pie was a popular outback dish. The galah, which usually appears in a large flock, has a raucous call, and it was perhaps this trait which produced the term galah session for a period allocated for private conversation, especially between women on isolated stations, over an outback radio network. F. Flynn in Northern Gateway (1963) writes: 'The women's radio hour, held regularly night and morning and referred to everywhere as the 'Galah Session'. It is a special time set aside for lonely station women to chat on whatever subject they like'. More generally, a galah session is 'a long chat' - A. Garve, Boomerang (1969): 'For hours the three men chatted... It was Dawes who said at last, "I reckon this galah session's gone on long enough".' Very commonly in Australian English galah is used to refer to a fool or idiot. A.R. Marshall and R. Drysdale in Journey among Men (1962), suggest that this sense of galah may have a non-Australian origin: 'A clue to the possible origin of the slang usage of 'galah'. In Malaya gila (pronounced gee-lah) means mad; henceorang gila, a madman'. But this explanation has not been accepted, and the Australian meaning must be a transfer from the bird, no doubt incorporating a judgment about the relative intelligence of the bird. The following citations give an indication of how the term is used: 1951 E. Lambert, Twenty Thousand Thieves: 'Yair, and I got better ideas than some of the galahs that give us our orders'. 1960 R.S. Porteous, Cattleman: 'The bloke on the other end of the line is only some useless galah tryin' to sell a new brand of dip'. 1971 J. O'Grady, Aussie Etiket: 'You would be the greatest bloody galah this side of the rabbit-proof fence'. From this sense arise a number of colloquial idioms. To be mad as a gum-tree full of galahs is to be completely crazy. To make a proper galah of oneself is to make a complete fool of oneself. A pack of galahs is a group of contemptibly idiotic people.

Australian idioms. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • galah — [gə lä′] n. [< native name] a pink and gray cockatoo (Cacatua roseicapilla) that is widely distributed in inland Australia and is popular as a cage bird …   English World dictionary

  • Galah — Taxobox | name = Galah status = LC status system = iucn3.1 image caption = regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Aves ordo = Psittaciformes familia = Cacatuidae subfamilia = Cacatuinae genus = Eolophus species = E. roseicapilla binomial …   Wikipedia

  • Galah — Para la especie de cacatúa véase: Eolophus roseicapilla GALAH es el acrónimo de Gay And Lesbian Atheists And Humanists, organización con sede en la ciudad de Washington. Objetivos La organización tiene entre sus objetivos: La lucha por la… …   Wikipedia Español

  • galah — n Australian a fool, a silly, empty headed person. The galah is a species of Australian cockatoo which characteristically con gregates with others and chatters . A rural catchphrase in currency before World War II was as mad as a (gum)tree full… …   Contemporary slang

  • galah — UK [ɡəˈlɑː] / US [ɡəˈlɑ] noun [countable] Word forms galah : singular galah plural galahs Australian informal an insulting word for a person who you think is silly or stupid …   English dictionary

  • galah — noun a) A pink and grey species of cockatoo native to Australia. Scientific name: Eolophus roseicapilla. That galah nearly drove me off the road. b) A fool, particularly when driving …   Wiktionary

  • galah — rožinis kakadu statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Cacatua roseicapillus; Eolophus roseicapillus angl. galah vok. Rosakakadu, m rus. розовый какаду, m pranc. cacatoès rosalbin, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas – rožiniai kakadu …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • galah — noun Etymology: Yuwaalaraay (Australian aboriginal language of northern New South Wales) gilaa Date: 1862 a pink breasted Australian cockatoo (Eolophus roseicapillus syn. Cacatua roseicapilla) that is sometimes a pest in wheat growing areas and… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • galah — /geuh lah /, n. 1. an Australian cockatoo, Kakatoe roseicapilla, having rose colored underparts. 2. Australian. a fool. [1885 90; < Yuwaalaraay (Australian Aboriginal language spoken near Lightning Ridge, N New South Wales) gila] * * * …   Universalium

  • Galah — loud, rudely behaved person; an irresponsible, erratic male; show off; fool, named after the bird of the same name which flies south in the winter a bloody silly thing to do in the Southern Hemisphere; grey and pink noisy parrot …   Dictionary of Australian slang


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