Friday, September 14, 2007


A furphy, also commonly spelt furfie, is Australian slang for a rumour, or an erroneous or improbable story.

An original Furphy
The word is derived from water carts made by a company established by John Furphy: J. Furphy & Sons of Shepparton, Victoria. Many Furphy water carts were used to take water to Australian Army personnel during World War I. The carts, with "J. Furphy & Sons" written on their tanks, became popular as gathering places where soldiers could exchange gossip, rumours and fanciful tales.
Originally it was synonymous with "rumour" and "scuttlebutt", but the modern meaning (especially in Australian politics) is "an irrelevant or minor issue raised to specifically divert attention away from the real issue".
A scuttlebutt, however, originally was a term for a cask of drinking water on a ship.
DESCRIPTION: furphy n. (pl. furphies) 1 a false report or rumour. 2 an absurd story. • adj. (furphier, furphiest) absurdly false, unbelievable: that’s the furphiest bit of news I ever heard.
This Ozword comes from the name of [John] Furphy, a blacksmith and general engineer, who went to Shepparton from Kyneton in 1871 and set up a foundry. John Furphy designed a galvanised iron water-cart on wheels and his firm, J. Furphy & Sons, manufactured them. Each cart had the name FURPHY written large on the body. So successful were these carts that during World War 1 the Department of the Army bought many Furphy carts to supply water to camps in Australia and especially to camps in Palestine, and Egypt.

So there you have it!


eric1313 said...

Thank you for keeping me informed on all the updates to our language that originate in your part of the world.

It's always a fascinating stop, here in the land of mornings you just don't do. It's 3:38 in the morning here, and I am, um, do they say knackered in Oz? Or is that more of a British Isles thing? Nobody says it here--except me, but I have oddly decourous habits of speech for an American. Obviously! ;)

LanternLight said...

Furphy was the word which taught me that speaking to german technical support, and saying the symptom was a bit of a furphy, made things different for others to understand.

Just like this comment. Sad, innit?

jillie said...

I have never heard that word before. I guess I learned something new today. I think I will go out and use it and see what kind of reactions I get around!!

Have a GREAT wknd!

Betty said...

Another enlightening post. Thanks, Cazzie!

Andrew said...

I've heard this story about the water cart before Cazzie, and I reckon it is a furphy.

Cazzie!!! said...

Eric, lol, I love it when you stop by. Knackered sure is a word we use mate :)

Lantern, I know, it is like using the word "Pissed"to some people. Pissed could mean, pissed from alcohol, pissed as in mad..ya knoow? Classic furphy, a dude we know went to Texas to work. He went to a bar with some locals, he said he had to go back to his hotel because he was "pissed". His Texan mates said, "What? Who is making you pissed? Tell us, we will sort them out for you". He laughed and said, "Nah,I'm just know, drank too much".

Jillie, lol, I know, when I say things to the overseas nurses who come and do some agency work with us I am always elaborating. It is as bad as talking all medical like when we ought to be speaking Lamens terms :)

Betty, why ty maam :)

Andrew, I laughed and giggled at what you say in could well be THE biggest furphy EVER!! The whole thing.

Queen of Dysfunction said...

How come Oz gets all the really cool words?

Mom said...

I never heard the word furphy before, but i sure have heard a lot furphies.

paddy said...

I like the name so much alog with the post I think I'll change mt name to Paddy Furphy, and when people asked me where the name came from I could furphy them up with it be the original name from which the bastard Murphy name came from. I could really get a good rippin' fight going down at the local as we Irish love to do.
"Hey murphy your clan are a bunch of ..... .
I am going on a bit furphishly. Ha!
Love the post.
Y;-) P...urphy

G-Man said...

A Furphy eh?
I'll remember that one!
Thanks Cazzie..xoxox

Eternally Curious said...

LOL! N'er mind the origin or the definition - I just like the sound o' it!!

Hale McKay said...

Furphy - I like that spelling better than 'furfie' - what an interesting word. I'll have find an excuse to use it sometime.

Thanks for the new addition to my vocabulary.

Cazzie!!! said...

QOD, I thinbk every country has their own slang really.

Mom, I betcha have too, lol.

Paddy, haha, you crack me up matey! I am thinking of my Auntie..she married a Buckley..the old saying here is that someone has "buckley's and none" if they have no hope of anything. So when I ay she's got buckley's and none..she cracks up at me, lol.

Galen, cool :)

EC, I know, it makes me laugh and makes me think it could all just be a furphy, lol.

Hale, that'll be funny when yoy do use it :)

Steph said...

lmao, I never knew that.

phishez_rule said...

Hot Dayam have I been waiting for this one!

I grew up in Shepparton. I actually went to school with one of the Furphys. I remember one of the teachers telling him off about something and he kind of drew himself up and said 'You can't tell me off, I'm J*** Furphy!'

Cazzie!!! said...

Steph, hows you? Glad you stopped by girl.

Phishez, LMAO at that one..haha

Twisted Cinderella said...

That is really cool!

Aidan said...

Etomology would be fun to study.
Australian coloqialisms (spell check) especially, cobber, drongo, the expression she's Apples, we use these terms every day without ever thinking where they came from or what they really mean.

Thought provoking as always.
Thanks for the info on Enrolled and registered nurses by the way:)

Cazzie!!! said...

Aidan, I might have to investigate more of these sayings I think.

Middle Child said...

Thanks for this Cazzie. Someone told me this some years back but I forgot the many I have it down pat.