Word of the Day


Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a large Australian animal that moves by jumping, has strong back legs, and carries its baby in a pouch

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun kangaroo comes from the animal’s name in Guugu Yimithirr or Guugu Yimidhirr, an Aboriginal language spoken in northern Queensland. It was first recorded in English in 1770, in the diary of Captain James Cook. The idea that kangaroo means ‘I don’t know’ is false but persistent.


26 January is Australia Day, although this year because 26th is a Sunday the event will be celebrated on 27 January, which is a public holiday. With the country still suffering from the terrible bush fires that have devastated vast areas, some of the planned fireworks displays have been cancelled. Australia’s unique wildlife, including iconic species such as koalas and kangaroos, has suffered immeasurably as a result of the fires. Like many Australian mammals, kangaroos are marsupials,  and carry their babies, called joeys, in a pouch on the front of their bodies for the first nine months or so of their lives. Kangaroos are informally called roos and the expression ‘to have roos in the top or upper paddock’ means to be crazy.


And who so happy – O who, As the Duck and the Kangaroo?
(Edward Lear)

Agatha and I are so much interested in Australia. It must be so pretty with all the dear little kangaroos flying about.
(Osca Wilde, Lady Windemere’s Fan)

Related words

dingo, koala, wallaby, wombat

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

Leave a Comment