The use of the term “Aussie” can be traced back to the First World War of 1914-1918, where its first recorded use was in a soldier’s diary, referring to the country which the troops were to return to on leave.
The word is quite clearly derived from ‘Australia’ and follows the typically Australian habit of abbreviating a word to its first syllable and adding an ‘ie’ or a ‘y’ on to the end – other notable examples include ‘barbie’ for barbecue, ‘relly’ for a relative, and many other instantly recognisable similar words. Appropriately for the content of this site, the Aussie word ‘Pokies’ follows this same tradition, although the word now has a wider gambling meaning than the original of poker. Play pokies Australia!
Although the word ‘Aussie’ was first used to refer to the country, it soon started to stand for the adjective ‘Australian’, with a even shorter word ‘Auss’ or ‘Oz’ becoming more commonly used for the country.
Again, although the word is a distinctly Australian kind of slang, it has become an accepted word even in more formal situations, and is readily recognised and understood the world over – and it has in fact become a shorthand way of expressing an Australian’s pride in their country and culture in typically forthright and down to earth fashion.
Incidentally, the term “Aussie” only now survives by chance, as the country was initially known as New Holland rather than “Terra Australis” (Southern Land) and later the modern Australia and it was only in 1862 that New Holland was officially dropped in favour of Australia, so paving the way for the familiar word Aussie to be adopted.