Bum nut noun: an egg.
In our 2020 annual appeal for contributions to the Australian National Dictionary, several people shared the word bum nut for ‘egg’ as a term they thought peculiar to their family. Bum nut’s origin does not need much explanation—it’s a humorous re-imagining of an egg as a roundish (nutlike) product of a hen’s rear end.
A search of our databases revealed that we have recorded this word before, with evidence suggesting it is Australian in origin and usage. In one example, however, the author explains the meaning of bum nut, indicating that it is probably not particularly widely used in Australian English: ‘Breakfast was a few bum nuts (eggs), bacon and some leftover goat that was hanging in the cool room.’ (Nick Cummins, The Honey Badger Guide to Life, 2018)
Australians use a couple of other colloquial words for a hen’s egg. The Australian English word googie or goog is an informal term that dates from the 1880s. It derives from British dialect goggy, a child’s word for an egg. A closer parallel to the jocular bum nut, however, is the word cackleberry. The ‘cackle’ in cackleberry alludes to the loud clucking of a hen, and ‘berry’ (like the ‘nut’ in bum nut) alludes to the egg’s shape. In Australian English cackleberry has been used since the early 20th century, but its origins are in US English from the late 1890s.
The evidence for bum nut points to it being a much more recent coinage, with our first record from the 1980s: ‘Some kids still ask for googies — boiled, fried or scrambled — for breakfast and occasionally you’ll hear an adult call them bumnuts.’ (Colin Bowles, G’Day! Teach Yourself Australian, 1986)
While most of the evidence for bum nut refers to eggs laid by hens, there is some evidence of it being used for the eggs of other animals:
The Territory Government started wild egg harvesting in 1980 and now issues permits for the collecting of 90,000 crocodile bum nuts. (Townsville Bulletin, 18 March 2017)
And one recent example may indicate that bum nut has also taken on a second, very different meaning to ‘egg’ in Australian English. We will continue to monitor this usage:
Midwest Times journalist Geoff Vivian reports the local sport and recreation club has demanded the Shire of Northampton remove Kalbarri Oval’s status as a designated dog exercise area because players are kicking more bum nuts than goals. (West Australian, 23 July 2018)
Bum nut will be considered for inclusion in the next edition of the Australian National Dictionary.