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Wangkiny / Language Glossary

Nyungar wangkiny or language, and the commitment to it, is central to Nyungar identity. As Nyungar language was not written prior to colonisation, there are many spellings of the word Nyungar itself (e.g. Noongar, Nyoongar) and many other Nyungar words.

Nyungar language is evident in place names, street names, plants and animals found throughout Nyungar boodjar. Nyungar words such as ‘gidge’ for spear have also been incorporated into the Australian-English language, Nyungar have remained faithful to our Nyungar wangkiny despite regressive policies and practices imposed upon us.

Nyungar wangkiny assists in restoring and preserving Nyungar ways of expressing culture and experience.1  As stated by the late Ballardong man Ralph Winmar (1996), Elder and “Keeper of the Stories”, “Nyungar language has a harmonious quality, and it is a real treat to hear two fluent speakers in conversation.”2 

This glossary does not include place names and other items. Click on these links for the Nyungar names for Placenames, Features of Derbal NaraPlants and Animals, and the Six Seasons.

As mentioned above, there are often multiple names and/or multiple spellings of similar names. For example, ‘whale’ is written as mamang, mamung, mummung, mammang, mamong, meemonga or namang. As Nyungar was not a written language before colonisation, these spellings represent variations in the interpretation by various recorders of the pronunciation of a given Nyungar word. The pronunciation itself may also have varied from place to place or clan to clan. Here we include one spelling for each similar sounding name; hence for whale we present ‘mamang’.3 

There may also be names for a single species that are quite different. These different names could represent different stages in the life cycle, different sexes, different features of the species’ lifestyle or regional variations in usage. For example, for humpback whale we found the names recorded as goonga goombar (carrying a large neck or back), booga bidern (back of whale a creating trail in water as it jumps, i.e. breaching) and bugal-el-ngor (literally hillock on back) (personal communication, Clint Bracknell and Len Collard).


Click on the first Nyungar word to hear all of the words on this page.

Bidi  Trail

bidi bidi (34 KB)

Boodjar or boodjera  Country or land

boodjar boodjar (34 KB)

boodjera boodjera (34 KB)

Boodjar-gordo  An island

boodjar-gordo boodjar-gordo (34 KB)

booga bidern  Back of whale a creating trail in water as it jumpsor i.e. breaching

booga bidern booga bidern (63 KB)

Booka  Coat

booka booka (34 KB)

Boolyada  One who possesses magic

boolyada boolyada (34 KB)

Boorda  Valley

boorda boorda (34 KB)

Boornyarri  Man's name

boornyarri boornyarri (34 KB)

Booyee  Rock

booyee booyee (34 KB)

Borda borda  Later on

borda borda borda borda (34 KB)

bugal-el-ngor  Literally hillock on back

bugal-el-ngor bugal-el-ngor (63 KB)

Bulland  Crane

bulland bulland (34 KB)

Bullung  Pelican

bullung bullung (34 KB)

By-yu  Zamia season or fruit

by-yu by-yu (34 KB)

Daap  Knife - ceremonial

daap daap (34 KB)

Derbal Nara  Cockburn Sound - Derbal means estuary and Nara means salmon

derbal nara derbal nara (34 KB)

Derbal Yaragan  Swan River

derbal yaragan derbal yaragan (63 KB)

Derbow  Dive or stoop

derbow derbow (34 KB)

Djakat  Roots

dyakat dyakat (34 KB)

Dogee  Rain

dogee dogee (34 KB)

Doordajee Doordajee  Now that means she is going to have a baby

doordajee doordajee doordajee doordajee (63 KB)

Dowak  Short heavy stick

dowak dowak (34 KB)

Dwert  Dingo or dog

dwert dwert (34 KB)

Gabbee or gaba  Water

gabbee gabbee (34 KB)

gaba gaba (34 KB)

Gidge or gidjee  Fishing Spear

gidge gidge (34 KB)

gidjee gidjee (34 KB)

Gilgie  Freshwater crayfish

gilgie gilgie (34 KB)

Gnarnk  Bloodline

gnarnk gnarnk (34 KB)

Gnoort  Horse

gnoort gnoort (34 KB)

Gooiara  Sand

gooiara gooiara (34 KB)

Goonga goombar  Carrying a large neck or back

goonga goombar goonga goombar (63 KB)

Jenna koorliny  Walk

jenna koorliny jenna koorliny (34 KB)

Jennark  Spirit

jennark jennark (34 KB)

Jimbar  The jimbar was like a dinosaur, as big as a dinosaur

jimbar jimbar (34 KB)

Joobaitch  Nyungar man

joobaitch joobaitch (34 KB)

Kaanya  Spirit

kaanya kaanya (34 KB)

Kaarda  Goanna

kaarda kaarda (34 KB)

Katitjin  Knowledge

katitjin katitjin (34 KB)

Katta  Hill

katta katta (34 KB)

Keirp  Water

keirp keirp (34 KB)

Kieler  Dolphin

kieler kieler (34 KB)

Kodj  Stone axe

kodj kodj (34 KB)

Kooboorl kooboorlor koombar kumbariny  That means the belly is getting big

kooboorl kooboorl koombar kumbariny kooboorl kooboorl koombar kumbariny (63 KB)

Koorannup  Spirit place across the sea

koorannup koorannup (34 KB)

Koormul  Possum

koormul koormul (34 KB)

Koorndan  Shame

koorndan koorndan (34 KB)

Kooyal  Frog

kooyal kooyal (34 KB)

Kulbardi  Magpie

kulbardi kulbardi (34 KB)

Kuljak  Swans

kuljak kuljak (34 KB)

Kura  Long time ago

kura kura (34 KB)

Kura yeye boorda  From the past today and into the future

kura yeye boorda kura yeye boorda (63 KB)

Kurrlonggur  Children

kullungar kullungar (34 KB)

kurrlonggur ngarnk  Child's mother

kurrlonggur ngarnk kurrlonggur ngarnk (34 KB)

Kyli  Boomerang

kyli kyli (34 KB)

Maaman or Maam  Male - also father

maaman maaman (34 KB)

maam maam (34 KB)

Mamong  Whale

mamong mamong (34 KB)

Mar  Wind

mar mar (34 KB)

Meeandip  Garden Island

meeandip meeandip (34 KB)

Meeka  Moon

meeka meeka (34 KB)

Meen  Roots

meen meen (34 KB)

Mia  Shelter hut camp

mia mia (34 KB)

Miro  Spear thrower

miro miro (34 KB)

Moodjar  Christmas Tree

moodjar moodjar (34 KB)

Moort  Family

moort moort (34 KB)

Nangar  The stars

nangar nangar (34 KB)

Ngoorndiny  A Resting place - of the Waarkle

ngoorndiny ngoorndiny (34 KB)

Nyingar  Echidna

nyingar nyingar (34 KB)

Nyitting  Cold time or Dreamtime

nyitting nyitting (34 KB)

Nyungar or Noongar  People

nyungar nyungar (34 KB)

Waakal or Waarkle or Waugal  Dream time rainbow serpent

waarkal waarkal (34 KB)

Wadjemup  Rottnest Island - Place of the Emus

wadjemup wadjemup (34 KB)

Waigen  Rainbow

waigen waigen (34 KB)

Waitch  Emu

waitch waitch (34 KB)

Wardan  Sea

wardan wardan (34 KB)

Wardong  Crow

wardong wardong (34 KB)

Warra  Bad

warra warra (34 KB)

Wedjela or wedjella  White person

wedjela wedjela (34 KB)

Whadjuk  The people of the Swan coastal plain. Could refer to Weitch, or emu

whadjuk whadjuk (34 KB)

Woonda  Shield

woonda woonda (34 KB)

Woordanung  Spirit place across the sea

woordanung woordanung (34 KB)

Woorriji  Lizard

woorriji woorriji (34 KB)

Wort buranginy  To pinch or grab the throat

wort buranginy wort buranginy (34 KB)

Yondock  Ancestral Crocodile

yondock yondock (34 KB)

Yonka or yonga  Kangaroo

yonka yonka (34 KB)

Yorga  Female

yorga yorga (34 KB)



1. Collard, Harben & van den Berg. Nidja Beeliar Boodjar Noonookurt Nyininy, 13.

2. Winmar. Walwalinj, v.

3. Scott & Woods. Mamang.