Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Australian A person given to comical or outlandish behavior.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A brash and impertinent, possibly violent, troublemaker, especially a youth; a hooligan.
  • n. A high-spirited person who playfully rebels against authority and conventional norms.
  • adj. Exhibiting the characteristics or behaviour of a larrikin; playfully rebellious against and contemptuous of authority and convention.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A rowdy street loafer; a rowdyish or noisy ill-bred fellow; a hoodlum; -- variously applied, as to a street blackguard, a street Arab, a youth given to horse-play, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Rollicking; disorderly; rowdy.
  • n. A rowdy; a rough; a blackguard; a “hoodlum.”

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Unclear. Suggested are: (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This may have something to do with brassiere technology, or the design of sweaters, or possibly the footage was shot by Australian news cameramen with a specific interest in that area - what you might call the larrikin school of film-making.

    Blogposts | guardian.co.uk

  • He is more perfect than any alleged "larrikin" or Bottle-O character I have ever attempted to sketch, not even excepting my own beloved Benno.

    The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke

  • Beer is a left-arm spinner and the kind of larrikin have-a-go competitor all but phased out by this over-regulated country.

    Telegraph.co.uk - Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph

  • Commercial advertising campaigns hurt Aussie wine 'larrikin' image AUSTRALIA has lost its larrikin personality to the suits and marketing bigwigs and that is hurting our economy, a leading British wine commentator says.

    AustralianIT.com.au | Top Stories

  • The Italian rugby squad is a million miles away from the 'larrikin' rugby league environment back home in Australia.

    Telegraph.co.uk: news, business, sport, the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Sunday Telegraph

  • The much vaunted Aussie "larrikin" sense of humor is indiscernible from the wit and laughter heard all over the world, it's famously

    AustralianIT.com.au | Top Stories

  • It's when we met the Ramsays and Robinsons, got whipped up in the romance of Scott and Charlene, hated Mrs Mangel but fancied her dowdy granddaughter Jane, and laughed along to the "larrikin" japes of Des

    Hecklerspray

  • Ask just about any Neighbours fan when the soap's golden era was, and they'll get all misty eyed as they reminisce about that first flush of mainstream success the show enjoyed in the late 80s. and Robinsons, got whipped up in the romance of Mrs Mangel but fancied her dowdy granddaughter Jane, and laughed along to the "larrikin" japes of

    Hecklerspray

  • In a eulogy delivered on behalf of the family, Mr Wilson's sister, Julie Garoni, labelled her brother a "larrikin".

    The Border Mail

  • "larrikin", an Australian term for a good-natured scoundrel.

    Telegraph.co.uk: news, business, sport, the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Sunday Telegraph

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "It was the same blokes at the Embassy tonight, the larrikins in suits, the quiet movers with brandy on their breath and Brylcreem in their hair. The ones with vagrant hands, the ones with bad teeth, broken noses, feet like snowshoes, bellies like baskets."
    Cloudstreet by Tim Winton, p 278 of the Graywolf Press hardcover edition

    April 3, 2010

  • cheeky bugger

    July 10, 2009

  • Aha, so Lewis Carroll was right in having Bill say 'arrum'.

    January 21, 2009

  • Standard pronunciation of such names as "Cork" and "Larkin" (the labour leader) reveals no tendency for Irish speakers of English to insert an extraneous vowel between the 'r' and 'k' sounds.

    In contrast, it's quite common to hear how "warrum" the weather is, or that no "harrum" will come of having another drink.

    January 21, 2009

  • Oh yes, but that's all merely plausibles. Demolishing the implausible is more fun.

    January 21, 2009

  • Read on, our sleuth eventually turned up a stronger possibility for the origin.

    January 21, 2009

  • In the obviously apocryphal story quoted below, the term 'trilled r' probably only means 'pronounced r', i.e. the normal Irish pronunciation [ˈlarkɪn] as against the England/Australia pronunciation [ˈlaːkɪn]. But could it have been a true trill or roll? Irish English is known to have had this value in the late eighteenth century; perhaps some 'broad' speakers still retained it in the 1860s.

    The inserted vowel between the /rk/ is again likely to be an exaggeration by the hearer reporting it, since in their accent /r/ couldn't occur without a following vowel. It's true that Irish Gaelic and Irish English do insert [ə] between certain consonants, as in the names 'Colm', 'Fir Bolg' and the word 'film', but I don't know that /rk/ would do that, especially as it can be syllabified /lar.kɪn/.

    January 21, 2009

  • "Well, where does this Ozword come from? E.E. Morris in 1898 (Austral English: A Dictionary of Australian Words, Phrases, and Usage)records a folk etymology which, he says, was believed by ‘99 persons out of 100’ at the end of the nineteenth century:
    It is a phonetic spelling of the broad Irish pronunciation, with a trilled r,of the word larking.The story goes that a certain Sergeant Dalton, about the year 1869, charged a youthful prisoner at the Melbourne Police Court with being ‘a-larrr-akin’ about the streets’. The Police Magistrate, Mr. Sturt, did not quite catch the word—‘A what, Sergeant?’—‘Larrikin’, your Worchup’. The police court reporter used the word the next day in the paper, and it stuck.
    Morris adds: ‘This story ... unfortunately ... lacks confirmation; for the record of the incident cannot be discovered, after long search in files by many people. Mr. Skeat’s warning must be remembered—"As a rule, derivations which require a story to be told turn out to be false".’ By the bye, W.W. Skeat (1835-1912) was an English lexicographer and philologist."

    The meandering etymology continues here.

    January 21, 2009

  • Australian slang. Sorry Seanahan, can't say when it came about.

    July 16, 2008

  • Hoodlum, rowdy.

    May 12, 2008

  • Origin Unknown, NOOOOOOOO! I really want to know where this comes from.

    October 28, 2007

  • Ha! Great word! It doesn't sound at all like what it means.

    October 28, 2007