This is part of an ongoing series of posts on my favorite Aussie slang. Be sure to check back for updates, or subscribe to my RSS feed to get updates to your reader automatically.
If you use your imagination and context clues, you can probably figure out what “budgie smugglers” is referring to in Aussie slang. Being not too far from the phrase “grape smugglers”, one can assume that “budgie smugglers” is the Aussie word for speedo-like swimwear for men.
My impression is that budgie smugglers are a much more common form of beach-wear than in North America… much more common. And, if there were one particular Australian person that could be the icon for budgie smugglers, it would be Tony Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition.
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Tony Abbott is so well known for wearing budgie smugglers when he does his iron man and training events that he actually came up at the top of Google when I ran a quick search for the term. Apparently, it is considered newsworthy when he decides to choose a wetsuit for a competition instead of his typical tiny swimmers.
Now, to get the full meaning of the term, you must know that “budgie” is actually the short form for “budgerigar”, a type of small parrot that lives in Australia and is often kept as pets. So, the budgie smugglers are called so because it supposedly looks like what it would if someone stuffed this small bird in their pants. I’m not sure how anyone ever decided that was a good phrase for it. Yes, Australia, you make no sense to me sometimes.