Ask a Local

| posted on June 08, 2011

When I was recently in Australia, the Aussies kept calling me a “seppo.” What does that mean and where did that word come from?—John Marcus, San Francisco, CA

Sorry to be the one to break it to you, John, but you’ve just been identified as a certifiable foreigner. South of the border you’re a gringo, in Hawaii you’re a haole. In Australia, you’re a septic tank—seppo for short. The term was originally derived from rhyming slang: Yank= septic tank. Not exactly sure on the logic there, but the term has also been said to reference Americans’ tendency to be “full of sh-t.” Don’t take it too personally though; as long as it wasn’t preceded by an irate expletive, you can consider it a term of endearment.

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  • CJ

    Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but the term ‘Seppo’ has nothing to do with Americans tendency to be full of sh-t. Albeit true, the word comes from “rhyming slang” which originated in England and was adopted in Australia. True, though, that it started with “Yank” (common Australian slang for an American) and morphed into “Septic Tank”, then “Seppo”. The term had nothing to do with the “full of sh-t” theory presented by Surfer, but if this lack of factual information is indicative of that theory, then perhaps it’s fitting. But not accurate.