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Published onOct 12, 2020


balanda: European, white,non-Aboriginal, derived from ‘Hollander’; Macassan-introduced word

bäpurru: clan, group, funeral.

barrkuwatj: separate, far apart

bäru: crocodile

bäyim: to buy, pay

biŋk: pink; can also be a Yolŋu term for balanda, or non-Aboriginal, woman

birrimbirr: spirit

bitja: photograph, film, video, picture

buŋgul: dance, ceremonial dance

buku-manapanmirr: joining or bringing things together


dhäkay-ŋänhawuy rom: the law of feeling; relationship through feeling

Dhalwaŋu: Yirritja clan

dharpa: tree, stick

dhäruk: speech, language, advice, message

dhay’yi: this

dhulaŋ: sacred designs

dhuwa: one of the two moieties of which the Yolŋu world is comprised, along with yirritja

djäl: what one is drawn close to through want, desire or love

djalkiri: foundation, foot

djäma: work

djambatj: ‘one shot’, good at (hunting, gathering, fishing), expert, quick, accurate

djarratawun’: flash or light

djorra’: book

djuŋgaya: ceremonial manager and supervisor [see waku]

doturrk: heart


gadayka’: stringybark tree

gakal: style

galka: sorcerer

galpu: spear thrower

gamunuŋgu: clay, ochre, paint, sacred design

ganydjarrmirr: powerful

gäthu: son or daughter from father or woman’s brothers’ children

gara: spear

guku: honey

gurrutu: family, kin(ship)

gurtha: fire

gutharra: grandchild; reciprocal relationship is märi


luku: foot, root of a tree, foundation, anchor


madayin: secret, sacred

mäna: shark

manikay: song, clan song

manymak: good

maranydjalk: stingray

marrkap: expression of affection, love and gratitude

marrkapmirr mala: strong expression of affection, love and gratitude addressed to a group

märi: maternal grandmother, grand-uncle on mother’s side; reciprocal relationship is gutharra

märi-gutharra: relationship of mother’s mother between people or groups (märi-gutharra are pairs from different clan groups, but with common stories, totems, names and ceremonies)

matha: language, literally tongue

meyawa: frilled-neck lizard

miny’tji: colour, pattern

mirriny: beehive entrance

mori: father

mukul rumaru: mother-in-law (avoidance relationship)

mulkurr: head, mind

mulmul: sea foam, lather, froth, suds, bubbles

munatha: sand, soil


ŋändi: mother

ŋänitji: alcohol

ŋaraka: carapace, shell, handset, bone

ŋarali’: cigarettes, tobacco

ŋarrpiya: octopus

ŋatha: food

ŋathi: maternal grandfather, granduncle

ŋayaŋu: heart, soul, sacred object


nyumikiny: small


raki’: string, mobile phone

riŋgitj: a sacred place for specific people or groups of people

rirrakay: sound, noise, voice, mobile phone

rom: law, tradition, way of life

rrupiya: money; Macassan-introduced word

rumbal: body, tree trunk


waku: woman’s children, man’s sisters’ children; these people are djuŋgaya for their mothers’ clan business

walŋa: alive

wäŋa: land, home

waŋgany: one, united

warwuyun: active sorrow, worrying, pining (noun form: warwu)

wäwa: brother

wuŋili’: image, photograph, shadow


yä: expression of discovery, spoken when making a connection

yawirriny’: young or single men

yapa: sister

yiki: knife

yindipuy: large

yirritja: one of the two moieties of which the Yolŋu world is comprised, along with dhuwa

Yolŋu: Aboriginal person from northeast Arnhem region, Aboriginal person more generally, and by extension sometimes just person

yuta: new

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