ON WALLABIES AND PADEMELONS
Wallabies are very cute mammals native to Australia and New Guinea that are essentially smaller kangaroos, and also the name of Australia's national rugby team. The word was first used in English in an 1826 agricultural account of New South Wales, when it was called a wallabee. For a while, it was also spelled walloby and whallabee, but the modern form was standardized by the end of the nineteenth century. The term is taken from wolaba, a noun in the extinct Darug language with the same definition. Beyond that, etymologists aren't able to reconstruct anything further. Darug also gave us pademelon, the name for another close relative of the kangaroo, through another word, badimaliyan. Both it and wallaby have been increasing in usage since introduction, although wallaby much more so.
Leave a Reply.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.