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What is Bluey slang for?

The term ‘Bluey’ has a few different slang meanings in Australian and British English. The most common meanings refer to either a red head person with fair skin, a blue cattle dog breed, or a bundle packed with belongings. The term has origins from the early 20th century and has evolved over time. Here is an overview of the different slang meanings of ‘Bluey’.

Meaning 1: Red-haired person

One of the most common slang meanings of Bluey is referring to a person, typically male, who has red hair and fair skin. This meaning has been in use since at least the early 1900s in Australia.

Some key points about this meaning:

– Specifically refers to red-headed men or boys with very fair skin that appears pink or blushes easily.

– The term likens these redheads to having a bluish tinge to their fair complexion, leading to the nickname Bluey.

– Has been in widespread use in Australia since the early 20th century.

– Usage has expanded beyond Australia but remains most popular Down Under.

– Can be used as an affectionate nickname for red-headed friends or family members.

– The term has appeared in Australian books, films and songs over the decades.

– Some consider it to have mild pejorative connotations in some contexts today.

So in summary, when used to refer to a person, Bluey refers to an Australian redhead male with very fair skin. It’s a nickname referencing the bluish tint their skin can appear to have.

Meaning 2: Blue cattle dog

A second common meaning of Bluey is referring to a specific breed of Australian cattle dog with a blue-colored coat.

Key facts about this meaning:

– Refers to the Australian Cattle Dog breed, which has a distinctive blue or blue mottled coat.

– The coat coloring resembled blue-gray cattle the dogs were originally bred to work with.

– They have been nicknamed ‘Blueys’ or ‘Blue Heelers’ since the late 1800s in Australia when the breed was developed.

– Still commonly referred to as Blueys or Blue Heelers in Australia and beyond.

– Used as a general nickname for any Australian Cattle Dog even if it has non-standard coat colors.

So in Australian slang, Bluey can be used as a shorthand name for the Australian Cattle Dog breed when referring to a specific dog or the breed in general.

Meaning 3: Packed bag or bundle

The term Bluey can also refer to a packed bag, knapsack or bundled belongings in Australian slang.

Key aspects of this meaning:

– Refers to a bag, rucksack or packed bundle that contains a person’s belongings.

– Often used specifically for a swagman’s bag as swagmen traveled around Australia in the early 1900s.

– The origin may refer to the blue-gray color of traditional swag bags.

– Also used for any packed bag ready for traveling, similar to a duffle bag.

So if someone says “Grab your bluey” in Australia, they mean to pack or pick up your bag, clothes and personal belongings. It refers to a packed bag or bedroll ready for traveling.


The origins of the Australian slang word Bluey are not 100% certain, but a few theories help explain its evolution:

– For red-headed people, it likely references how very fair, freckled skin can appear to have a bluish tint. Comparing ruddy complexions to blue hues dates back centuries in English and Irish language.

– For dogs, it references the distinctive blue-gray coats of the Australian Cattle Dog breed when it was developed in the 1800s.

– For bundles/bags, it may refer to the typical blue-gray canvas color of traditional swag bags in the early 1900s.

The common thread is the use of “blue” to describe coloration in people, animals and objects. The term became Australian slang by the early 20th century.

Examples in Australian Culture

Bluey has appeared in Australian songs, books and films over the past century as a cultural shorthand and slang reference:

– Children’s books like “Bluey for a Girl” in the 1940s.

– Songs like “Goodbye, Bluey” by Dusty Rankin in the 1960s.

– Movies like “Red Dog” in 2011 that featured an Australian Cattle Dog nicknamed Bluey.

– Recent kids show “Bluey” about a Blue Heeler family of dogs that debuted in 2018.

So while the term may have multiple meanings, it occupies a special place in Aussie vernacular and pop culture.

Usage and Alternatives

Bluey remains in common usage as Australian slang today. Some alternatives and related slang terms:

– Bluey can be seen as offensive by some redheads now – alternatives are “ranga” or “ginger”.

– “Cattle dog” or “ACD” are sometimes used instead of “Blue Heeler”.

– “Swag” is commonly used for a packed bedroll instead of “bluey”.

So while Bluey is still used, other slang like ranga or swag can be used instead in modern contexts.


In summary, Bluey is used as Australian and British slang with three main meanings:

1. A red-haired male with fair skin (used since the early 1900s).

2. The Australian Cattle Dog breed of blue-gray dogs (late 1800s origin).

3. A packed bag or bundle ready for travel (likely early 1900s origin).

While the exact etymology is uncertain, the term Bluey references blue hues in people, animals and objects. It endures as an Aussie cultural term despite some shift away from its usage in recent decades. So next time you hear “Bluey” in Australian slang, it can impart a variety of meanings.