My Word: Bogan

Trendsetter: Kylie Mole from The Comedy Company helped make bogan popular.
Trendsetter: Kylie Mole from The Comedy Company helped make bogan popular.

Bogan, according to the Australian National Dictionary, is “a boorish and uncouth person”.

It has only a brief career in this sense. The earliest I could find was in 1985.

In September of that year Tracks said: “So what if I have a mohawk and wear Dr Martens boots for all you uninformed bogans”. Tracks was a surfing magazine.

Teenagers used it to mean someone who was a bit of a dag, or a hooligan.

My big dictionary says “occasionally synonymous with dag”.

Bruce Moore, writing in What’s Their Story, was one of many who saw a connection with Kylie Mole from The Comedy Company. Kylie defined a bogan as ”a person you just don’t bother with; someone who wears their socks the wrong way or has the same number of holes in their stockings; a complete loser”.

A similar item was contained in Dolly magazine in October 1988.

Bogan is usually male, although bogan chick is a female bogan.

...the widespread use of bogan became popular after Kylie Mole began using it.

Susan Butler, writing in The Dinkum Dictionary, says the widespread use of bogan became popular after Kylie Mole began using it. She says it is a homegrown word.

GA Wilkes says it refers to anyone who can be described as “a square”.

My big dictionary tried to describe bevans and bogans, by quoting the Brisbane Courier Mail of July 6, 1988 as saying “this group is characterised by their common dress – tight T-shirts with a logo relating to the brand of car they drive or detest, old blue jeans, ugh jeans (replaced by thongs in summer and the obligatory packet of cigarettes shoved up one’s T-shirt sleeve”.

It went on to quote the Courier Mail as saying female bogans wore tight jeans, high-heeled shoes and skimpy camisole tops. It then went on to say bevans and bogans ate at McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks, the Taco Den or Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Bogan has some interesting expressions. For instance, there is the bogan flea (which is a plant), the bogan gate, which is a makeshift gate and bogan shower.

But I come back to bogan, an uncultured or unsophisticated person, occasionally synonymous with dag.

My dictionary says it is of unknown origin.

But I can visualise a person in Sydney trying to think of name for a person from out west. “Let’s call him a bogan and he’ll think it’s a compliment”.

lauriebarber.com;lbword@midcoast.com.au