Meaning of wood-and-water joey in English:

wood-and-water joey


  • 1Australian, New Zealand informal An unskilled labourer who carries out the menial tasks in a place of work.

    ‘at fifteen he was working as a wood-and-water joey on a big cattle station’
    • ‘The wood-and-water joey fell a victim to his bowie.’
    • ‘He was wood and water joey at some squatter's place.’
    • ‘It's not so common nowadays, working your way up from wood-and-water joey to boss.’
    • ‘Last of all was the wood-and-water joey with his dray.’
    • ‘"Sometimes they send the wrong lengths aboard," he says, "and then I have to cut 'em up myself. I'm a fireman," he says, "not a wood-and-water joey."’
    1. 1.1A servile employee.
      ‘I'm not going to be wood-and-water joey, I can tell ye’
      • ‘There is no doubt that the statesmen took advantage of the inexperience of our representatives and forced upon them an agreement which still leaves Australia in the position of a wood and water joey.’
      • ‘They expected the minister to be a wood-and-water joey in connection with the work of the church.’
      • ‘They were not merely wood-and-water-joeys, they were energetic men.’
      • ‘That principle is going to make of the Australian tradesman nothing else but a wood-and-water joey.’


Mid 19th century from an allusion to the biblical phrase ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ (Josh. 9:21) + joey (in the sense ‘a recent arrival on a goldfield’)..