Bogan is the most significant word to be created in Australian English in the past 40 years. It is defined as “an uncultured and unsophisticated person; a boorish and uncouth person” in the 2016 edition of the Australian National Dictionary.
Ever relevant, the word has made the news in recent weeks with Will Connolly, the teenager who egged Senator Fraser Anning, posting a video online warning that if you egg politicians, “you get tackled by 30 bogans at the same time”.
The type of Australian the term refers to has been the subject of books, television shows, and heated debate. The noun has generated many derivatives and compounds: bogan chick, boganhood, boganic, boganism, boganity, boganland, boganness. Not since “ocker” appeared in the late 1960s as a reference to an uncultured and uncouth Australian male has there been such a productive Australian word.
We have still not established its etymology. Some have argued the term “bogan” may derive from the Bogan River and district in western New South Wales. But there is no evidence whatsoever that could link our uncouth bogan with this area. Nor is there convincing evidence that Henry Lawson’s story The Blindness of One-Eyed Bogan gave rise to the word.
Until now, the earliest evidence of the word cited in the dictionary is from a letter signed by “Dave, Phillip Island, Vic” to the surfing magazine Tracks in September 1985. He asks: “So what if I have a mohawk and wear Dr Martens (boots for all you uninformed bogans)?”