Australians and New Zealanders use many words that are completely meaningless to the rest of the world. Many of our slang words and phrases are understood immediately to the natives of our countries, but totally confusing to those who haven't grown up here.
Dag is probably one of these words. Adding to the confusion, is the fact that it has several different connotations - dag can be a friendly label, or can be used in a negative way. To the unwitting observer, it can be difficult to tell at times. Sometimes it's difficult to those who know the word well!
it's difficult to tell where this term originated, but it's almost certainly from either Australia or New Zealand. Much of the slang from these two countries is very similar, and has developed along very similar lines. While it is true that dag is a term for the crap that hangs off the wool around a sheep's butt, the slang term doesn't really have any similarities (well, not that I've ever heard of!)
So here are some of the myriad uses for the word dag - such a small word, so many subtle variations.
- A person with little fashion sense. A dag will commonly not really care what they're wearing, being more interested in comfort than looks. This is often a subjective call though - if you're mooching around the house on a Sunday, and couldn't be bothered dressing in any more than your tracky dacks, ug boots and an old jumper, you may well be quite a dag. However if you're getting around like that when you go out on a Friday night, you're probably not so much a dag, as just very lazy, and looked at strangely.
- A dag can also be someone who doesn't mind making a bit of a fool of themselves - someone who doesn't mind looking a little silly to act the clown. In this situation, being called a dag isn't so much a put down, as a term on endearment. To be labelled a dag in this manner, your efforts must be amusing, and genuine. If you're trying too hard, you're more likely to be labelled as a wanker.
- A dag can also be someone who's sense of fashion is so tragic, as to be beyond rescue. This can be a little confusing given the first meaning, but there is a difference. Some people can be part-time dags, but they're not generally thought of as a daggy person. For others, being a dag is second nature, and they probably couldn't be any different if they tried. For the first person, being called a dag probably won't offend - they know they're a dag at the time, but don't really mind. For the second, being called a dag could come as a surprise, and may be something they'd rather not be known as.
- As well as fashion, dag can be used to refer to someone's nature. Some people are generally known to be cool people (on whatever judging scale you might use). In Australia and New Zealand, a dag can be somebody who's known as being the opposite to cool. Someone with daggy fashion sense could conceivably do a turn around, and get themselves some very cool clothes. It doesn't mean they automatically loose the dag label though.
So if you're visiting this side of the world, and someone calls you a dag, hopefully this might give you some clues as to just what the hell they're talking about. The most important thing to keep in mind is that even though dag is a term that isn't always used kindly, it's not really a word that's used in a nasty way. So if someone calls you a dag, it's not the end of the world. Wear your label with pride, and the satisfaction of knowing what it actually means!