Billabong (lake)

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Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu National Park


For other meanings, see Billabong

Billabong is an Australian English word meaning a small lake, specifically an oxbow lake.[1] Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving a dead end. Some people say there is a Scottish Gaelic origin,[2] but the word is most likely from the Wiradjuri term bilabaŋ.[3][4]

Billabongs appear often in Australian literature. One of the most famous is in the opening line of the famous folk song "Waltzing Matilda".

References[change | edit source]

  1. Clarke, R. "Australianisms in 'Waltzing Matilda'", Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 10 December 2003. Last accessed 5 November 2009.
  2. Skilton, St J. "The Survey of Scottish Gaelic in Australia and New Zealand", p. 300, quoting a respondent to his survey: "'Bill' = 'bile' = 'lip or mouth' and 'abong' is from 'abhainn' = 'river' with a parasitic 'G' added. A billabong probably has a mouth shape of sorts being at a bend in a river." University of Fribourg, Switzerland, June 2004. Last accessed 15 March 2008.
  3. Ludowyk, F. "Of Billy, Bong, Bung, & 'Billybong'", Australian National University, no date. Last accessed 15 March 2008.
  4. "Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online". Last accessed 15 March 2008.