AskDefine | Define cobber

Dictionary Definition

cobber n : Australian term for a pal

User Contributed Dictionary



Australian goldfields produced a lot of clay-based spoil as the pits were dug. This was often used as building material, making unformed (usually red) mud cob huts. It is proposed without proof that this is probably the derivation of the term..



  1. (Dated) A pal, buddy, mate, friend. Synonymous with digger.
    What's up. cobber?
    G'day cobber!


Extensive Definition

Mate is a colloquialism used to refer to a friend and is commonly used in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland. It is or has been used interchangeably with many equivalent terms, such as buddy (originally United States/Canada but now used more widely) or cobber (Australian/New Zealand only - originally derived from Yiddish, now rare).


Mate is a colloquialism with sketchy origins, although it is theorised that it started with use by dock workers in the Victorian era. It might also be derived from the Dutch word "maat" which means the same as mate in English.
In Australasia, the use of "mate" and the subsequent concept of "mateship", conceptualised a widespread egalitarian ethos, especially among working class white males.


Mate is also often used to address strangers as a nicety. When the term is used outside Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, or Ireland, mate is generally seen as referring to a person's spouse (when used as a noun) or a zoological term for copulation (when used as a verb). However words like classmate, which is in common usage around the world keeps the original meaning. The term is informal and is a mild endearment, though can be used in ironical ways as an accompaniment to an aggressive or rude statement.


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