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Down Under

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Australasia on a map

The term Down Under is a colloquialism differently construed to refer to Australia and New Zealand, or the Pacific island countries collectively.[1][2] The term originally referred solely to Australia and gradually expanded in scope. It comes from the fact that Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, “below” almost all other countries on the usual arrangement of a map or globe which places cardinal north at the top.[1][3]

The term has been in use since the late 19th century,[4] and the persistence of the media use of the term has led to its wide acceptance and usage, especially in reference to Australia. The Men at Work song “Down Under” became a patriotic rallying song for Australians. The Russian-Australian boxing champion Kostya Tszyu was nicknamed “The Thunder from Down Under”, as is Australian snooker player Neil Robertson. When the then Miss Australia Jennifer Hawkins was crowned as Miss Universe 2004 in Quito, Ecuador, she was called by the same nickname by host Billy Bush.[5]

According to American film critic Roger Ebert's tongue-in-cheek Glossary of Movie Terms, the Down Under Rule:

No film set in Australia is allowed to use the word Australia in its title where “Down Under” is an acceptable alternative. For example, we don't get The Rescuers in Australia or Quigley in Australia.

The Tour Down Under is a cycling race in and around Adelaide, South Australia, and since 2009 has been the inaugural event of the UCI World Tour Ranking calendar, which culminates in the Giro di Lombardia.


  1. ^ a b Oxford English Dictionary (Electronic), Version 4.0, entry for "down under". The dictionary recodes the first published use in 1886 by J. A. Froude in "Oceana" p. 92 "We were to bid adieu to the 'Australasian'…She had carried us safely down under."
  2. ^ Kids, Thinking; Publishing, Carson-Dellosa (7 March 2016). Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills, Grade 6. Carson-Dellosa Publishing. p. 482. ISBN 978-1-4838-2415-4.
  3. ^ New Oxford American Dictionary (NOAD2), entry for "Down Under"
  4. ^ Froude, James Anthony (2010) [1886]. Oceana, Or, England and Her Colonies [the colonies of modern day Australia). Cambridge University Press. pp. 19, 92. ISBN 9781108023900. — page 19 for details of the specific ship SS Australasian (1884). The full sentence on page 92 is "She had safely carried us down under as the Square gardener put it to me afterwards in London, scarcely believing it could be a reality".
  5. ^ Miss Universe 2004 Crowning 3:00

Further reading[edit]