“Larrikin” — Australian for maverick

Sometimes, learning new vocabulary can leave you gobsmacked

Updated - March 14, 2022 11:44 am IST

Published - March 14, 2022 10:30 am IST

Know you English

Know you English | Photo Credit: Getty Images

“How do you pronounce l…a…r…r…i…k…i…n?”

“The ‘a’ sounds like the ‘a’ in ‘cat’, ‘bat’ and ‘hat’, while the ‘i’ in the second and third syllable sounds like the ‘i’ in ‘tip’, ‘hip’ and ‘chip’. The word is pronounced ‘LA-ri-kin’ with the stress on the first syllable. It is a word used in Australian English.”

“I guessed as much! Quite a few Australian players described Shane Warne as being a larrikin.”

“Yes, they did! Do you know what the word means?”

“Is a larrikin someone who enjoys playing practical jokes on people?”

“Not really! He’s someone who doesn’t follow the usual social norms. He defies conventional behaviour. The word is mostly used with young men who rebel — almost playfully — against the establishment.”

“That sounds like Shane Warne, all right. He defied all conventions. I understand he used to drink a couple of bottles of beer during the lunch break.”

“Really? A larrikin is what we in India would refer to as a ‘rowdy’. Here’s an example.

In the movie, the hero is a lovable larrikin who gets thrown out of pubs.

“How about this example? My mother tells me that her elder brother was a bit of a larrikin in his younger days. Apparently, he gave his parents sleepless nights.”

“Difficult to imagine your uncle as a larrikin, though.”

“That’s true. Any idea where the word comes from?”

“Nobody is really sure. A few scholars claim that the word has something to do with the name ‘Larry’. Other than that, they have no clue.”

“I see. So, what was your reaction when you heard about Warne’s death?”

“Like most people all over the world, I was completely gobsmacked.”

“You were what?”

“Gobsmacked. When you say you were gobsmacked what you mean is that you were so shocked that you were unable to speak. This informal expression is mostly used in British English.”

“I see. How about this example?

The kids were gobsmacked when they saw their father walk into the house with a cute little puppy in his hands.

“That’s a wonderful example.

Shreya was gobsmacked when she was informed that she would be the next CEO.

“Tell me, where does this word come from?”

“In British English, ‘gob’ is a slang term for the mouth. So, when someone smacks or hits you on the mouth, how would you react? What would you do?”

“Nothing, initially. I’d be too shocked to say or do anything.”

“Exactly! You’d be too astonished to do anything. Do you think Warne was the best leg spinner in the world?”

“According to me, Kumble was a better bowler than him.”

“You cannot say, ‘according to me’. It’s …”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s always according to someone else. According to Hayden, Shane Warne was the best leg spinner in the world.”

“According to my father, Warne was better than Kumble.”

“If you have an opinion, then you say, ‘In my opinion, Kumble was better than Warne.’ You don’t say, ‘According to me, Kumble was better’.”

“I can also say, I think Kumble was better than Warne, right?”

“That’s right! If you ask me, we should stop talking about cricket.”

“I think that’s a wonderful idea.”


0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.