This is a list of banned words from 1995.

Two things:

  • These lists are just sort of hilarious when the words are just dumped on you out of context.

  • Shockingly, there are several words in there I’ve never even heard of before, and that I have no idea what they mean. I feel so naive.


  1. leerudolph says

    Shockingly, there are several words in there I’ve never even heard of before

    I’m guessing they’re the same three I didn’t recognize. Predictably, given the source, at least two of them appear to be Australianisms; given that further information, it is not surprising that at least those two (and possibly the third) also apparently can have specific (derogatory) reference to native peoples of Australia. (I didn’t delve far into the results of my search with Google, so everything I just wrote is subject to correction by actual subject-matter experts, and/or speakers of Australian English.)

  2. blf says


    The mildly deranged penguin notes very few cheeses are root crops, so it makes some sense to ban root. Similarly, the other banned words have little to do with cheese (or at least she hasn’t invented something to do with cheese (yet)). What is more surprising are the omissions; e.g., apparently pea, republican, and horse are all allowed.

  3. says

    “Root” is a very common Australian word for “fuck”.
    To be rooted can mean fucked in the literal sense, but more often used to mean exhausted, or worn out.
    Quite useful, really.

  4. davidnangle says

    I understood that, Frank, but I thought it came from the animal term for rutting, which I’d never heard used in person, but I assumed was the obscenity just pronounced in a different way. If that’s true, the innocent word “root” has been maligned.

  5. Holms says

    Root is pronounced just as you’d expect (boot, hoot etc.) and so is quite distinct from rut (but, hut). Its meaning is similar to screw, in that it can mean sex in some contexts, or broken / in trouble in others (“My car won’t start, the fucking thing is rooted” / “My boss caught me watching porn at work, holy shit I am so rooted). It does not mean the other things that screw does, though.

    I thought about putting it in terms of fuck as they do have plenty of overlap, but it is not exactly a swear word so much as …improper. And so it is never an exclamation of surprise or anger or similar, and is not used to insult people. “Fuck off” works, “root off” will just get you confused looks.

  6. iknklast says

    It looks like biologists could have a problem. If they wanted do anything regarding dam-building mammals, they would have to leave off the actual name of said dam-building mammals. And if they happened to be a botanist, they would have trouble dealing with the issue of tap [censored], fibrous [censored], and lateral [censored].

    I know what beaver means in relationship to sex, but root? Nope. Never heard that used in any way that could be marginally considered offensive.

  7. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    iknklast @ 11,

    Not to mention birdwatchers. No tufted titmouse for you!

  8. zenlike says

    If your job title is “Chief Censor”, maybe it is time to rethink your fucking miserable life.

  9. Larry says

    Since this is from 1995, I’ll assume (and hope) Australia has come out from the dark ages, kicked their chief censor into the bush, and stopped trying to control what individuals can see or hear. If not, why the frig not?

  10. weylguy says

    Like Myers, I’d never heard of some of those words myself. However, I do find a number of the more common ones extremely offensive.

    I’ve always thought it amusing that my Middle Eastern wife, who spoke Arabic and French before she learned English, doesn’f find any of the words offensive at all. But when I once stumbled across a dirty word in Arabic, she got really upset. So it’s not the word that counts, it’s the meaning.

  11. Owlmirror says

    There is an actual film called Dick. Was it allowed to be advertised in Australia? Maybe it never showed over there, given that it was a comedy about American politics.

    I don’t remember it from when it came out. Apparently someone doing movie marquee shenanigans thought it was hilarious to do this sort of thing, and I spotted a retweet.

    NB: “movie marquee shenanigans” almost certainly means “Photoshop or other image manipulation software”

  12. says

    > I know what beaver means in relationship to sex, but root?

    Speaking of beavers and “roots”, there is a very popular Canadian clothing brand called “Roots Canada”… whose logo is a beaver. I have had several Aussie friends visiting here specifically ask me to take them to a Roots store so they could get a sweatshirt that says “Roots Canada”. Once you know what the Australian interpretation of “roots” is, the branded sweatshirts become unintentionally hilarious.

    I’ve also heard – though I can’t confirm this is true; it may just be a hilarious urban legend – that this is why Roots Canada no longer makes clothing prominently branded with their “Roots Kids” line’s logo.

    Naughty words are always fun, but cultural diversity just makes them so much *more* fun!

  13. Richard Smith says

    I guess, if the love of money is the root of all evil, it’s not a platonic love?

  14. petesh says

    I recommend to all this detailed examination of the Australian language as it has been spoke:

    I tried to find a dictionary of idioms popularized by Barry (Bazza) McKenzie, as invented by Barry (Edna) Humphries, but this was the best I could find. Bazza was particularly noted for his expressions covering the event that might conclude (or perhaps provide an intermission to) a solid evening of quaffing ale: chunder, liquid laugh, and technicolour yawn, for a start …

  15. Holms says

    #17 weylguy
    “So it’s not the word that counts, it’s the meaning.”
    Duh. A word is nothing if it does not mean anything.

  16. Muz says

    It’s worth noting that these are only ‘banned words’ in the sense that anything using them cannot receive an unrestricted classification, which is the lowest classification. If you fail to meet the criteria, you just get a more restricted classifcation (G and up). Any advertising material for open public viewing that parents cannot be sufficiently advised about (and can’t be put behind visual barriers or televisual watersheds etc) must also fit into the unrestricted classification, so the amusing list.

    I don’t know what they made of the film Dick. The decision can probably be found somewhere. It does exist in DVD form and posters, intact. Presumably, double entendre aside, it is a name in that instance so got a pass for that reason.

  17. weylguy says

    #20 Indi

    “Rootin’ fer taters” is a common pastime in many Red States, especially enjoyed by women.

  18. rpjohnston says

    And with this, the victory of the Sporks was ensured and our culture’s fate, sealed.

  19. gijoel says

    @10 A bit of googling says that it’s a self-referential term for aboriginals in South Australia. Not sure if it’s equivalent to Koori/Murri or the N word.

  20. Roj Blake says

    @gijoel, it is equivalent to Koor/Murri in as much as it describes a particular group.

    Muff = pussy
    Norks = breasts

    I think the others are all quite clear.

    Australia has a long history with censorship. As a callow youth of the 60’s, one government minister often referred to banning the things he wouldn’t like his 126 year old daughter to see. Not that he had a 16 y/o daughter. But that’s government forya. He also placed a limit on the number of nipples that could be shown in a single edition of a magazine, apparently 6 was OK, but 8 would drive us all insane.

    Best Bazza McKenzie line of all time – I hope your legs turn into bicycle wheels and backpedal up your arse. Followed up with I hope your chooks turn in to Emus and kick your dunny down.

    He was also famous for calling paintings hand drawn photographs.

  21. jack16 says

    My take is that for the sake of understandable writing expletives should be avoided. If offense occurs its blind and may cause harm not fun.


  22. Colin J says

    zenlike #15:

    If your job title is “Chief Censor”, maybe it is time to rethink your fucking miserable life.

    Back in the 1960s that’d be my grandfather you’d be talking about. He seemed happy enough – though I only ever saw him when he wasn’t doing his job.

    OK, so; this list is from over 20 years ago. As Muz said (#24), it only relates to material going for unrestricted classification. Plus it only applies to covers & posters, not the content. I can’t see too many kiddie’s films wanting to use any of those words on their posters (aside from an educational feature on the aforementioned dam-building mammal). Which makes it a pretty pointless list, I guess…

    It’s funny but not worth getting indignant about.

    Roj Blake #29:

    Australia has a long history with censorship.

    This – 100 times this. For a country that likes to push it’s larrikin reputation, Australia can be extremely straitlaced and prudish. Silly lists of naughty words are one thing, but there are all sorts of works that have been banned, unbanned and then banned again. We’ve only recently* managed to get an adult classification for computer games. Before that, a game had to be suitable for children or it was banned. Even with the R rating, we get things like Fallout 3 having to rename morphine “Med-X” and a South Park game that had to replace its more extreme sequences with a picture of a crying koala in order to not be banned in Australia.

    I’d like to mention (in an attempt to repair my family reputation) that my parents wrote a book called “The Liberating of Lady Chatterley”. It’s a history of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and it includes a lot on the fight against censorship and, in particular, the efforts to reverse the ban on Lady Chatterley’s Lover. It’s been out of print for years – it was published directly by the CCL – but it’s a good read (although I might be biased).

    *5 years ago. My, how time flies.

  23. chigau (違う) says

    jack16 #31
    Who gets to decide which words are to be considered expletive?

  24. ridana says

    @29 Roj Blake “it is equivalent to Koor/Murri in as much as it describes a particular group.”

    Then why is it on the censored list? Wait, are you saying Koori, et al, are likewise unacceptable?

    On a different note, I guess Australians hear something entirely different when someone says they’re rooting for the home team…

  25. nomadiq says

    @34 – to say you’re rooting for a team makes for a delightful double entendre in Australian English, at least before completing high school.

    Regarding ‘nunga’ (I hesitate to even write the word): this word does refer to a regional group of native Australians (South Central region) but also has a pejorative sense. I’m amazed two other pejoratives for native Australians are not mentioned in the list – one beginning with ‘A’ and one beginning with ‘B’ – and I just can’t make myself type them out. They are that bad.

  26. billyjoe says


    We would normally say “barrack for the home team” but, on the occasion that we did say “root for the home team” the emphasis would definitely be on the word “root”.

  27. Jim says

    Some of those words (eg hooters) are Americanisms that became adopted in Australia. Others may be of English origin.
    Muff comes from the furry handwarmers of yesteryear, and is usually pronounced “moof”, so probably English in origin.
    Horny = sexually aroused.
    Hornbag = a sexually arousing woman. First time I heard this was on the situation comedy “Kath and Kim”.
    Norks = knockers = breasts. I suspect this may be English slang.
    Nunga – This may be used in the area where the Nunga people come from. I’ve never heard it used elsewhere in Australia.
    Root = to have sexual intercourse with. I gather it comes from “rut”, but pronounced with an English regional accent.
    Smoo = female genitalia. Also “Smoo’ee”. No idea where it comes from, may come from Little Abner’s magical “Schmoos”.

  28. mickll says

    @ Saad

    Weirdly enough “Nunga” is also a word for South Australian indigenous people.

  29. yoav says

    I have added an extra screw in order to better hold the coop door so the cock won’t be able to get out and scare the beaver that built a dam in the stream behind my house even though the noise of it chewing on the tree root prevented me from watching the documentary about Dick Chaney.