Meaning of bunyip in English:


Pronunciation /ˈbʌnjɪp/


  • 1A mythical amphibious monster said to inhabit inland waterways.

    ‘However, most Australians now consider the existence of the bunyip to be mythical.’
    • ‘What's more, he is a 53-year-old man who lives outside the city, throws three-day parties and whose ex-partner has written a book about bunyips.’
    • ‘There was a rumble below and all the creatures began to flee yelling ‘Quick, here comes the bunyip!’.’
    • ‘It's mirrored by an account told by white settlers of a paddle steamer captain who shot a bunyip.’
    • ‘But in recent years there has been a flood of big indigenous icons, many owned by indigenous corporations: big koalas, big kangaroos, big crocodiles, big bunyips and big barramundi.’
    • ‘There's a good history of bunyips (admittedly, with kid-friendly flash) here.’
    • ‘Examples of the former are the yowie (Australia's version of Bigfoot) and the bunyip (a swamp-dwelling, hairy creature with a horselike head).’
    • ‘It is the study of such creatures as the Australian bunyip, Bigfoot, the chupacabra, and the Loch Ness monster.’
    • ‘The Professor was going to pelt Hugh Mackay with a great, malodorous barrage of bunyip droppings, but then realised there wouldn't be any point.’
    • ‘After the bunyip returned home, Tyawan crept out of his cave to search for his magic bone.’
    • ‘The bunyip lives in Australia and is believed by many to be a descendant of the diprotodon, a marsupial (an animal with a pouch, like the kangaroo) about the size of a rhinoceros, which became extinct thousands of years ago.’
    • ‘Some say the bunyip looks like a huge snake with a beard and a mane; others say it looks like a huge furry half-human beast with a long neck and a head like a bird.’
  • 2usually as modifier An impostor or pretender.

    ‘Australia's bunyip aristocracy’
    • ‘A Labor Prime Minister ‘born to be a king’ is destined to produce a ‘powerful Governor-General’, ‘a bunyip aristocracy’.’
    • ‘In the early 1850s, when Wentworth chaired the committee appointed to draft a new constitution for NSW, his unsuccessful plea for an upper house based on a hereditary colonial peerage was mocked as a bunyip aristocracy.’
    • ‘Since the days of Macarthur there has been a bunyip aristocracy in Australia that has been offended by the idea of having to pay to acquire labour.’
    • ‘Stan Gudgeon has trained his beady, jaundiced bunyip eye on leftie econo-blogger John Quiggin.’
    • ‘So many things to get a bunyip upset, so little time to fulminate about them.’
    • ‘A small step for the blogosphere, but a giant leap for bunyips!’
    • ‘His play on the word bunyip, with its overtones of anachronistic absurdity, reflected the refusal by Australians to institutionalise an upper class.’


Mid 19th century from Wemba-wemba banib.