Fair dinkum is perhaps the most common colloquial linguistic export from Australia.

Originally a bush or folk saying/exclaimation, it entered popular currency around the 1900s.

It is popularly used in two conversational forms: a question, and a statement of fact. As a question, it means "is that right?" or perhaps "are you quite sure?". As a statement of fact, it means "absolutely correct".

The origin of the phrase is said to have mutated from early convict "fair drinking".

In conversation:
"Fair dinkum, that was a bloody good game of footy."
"Fair dinkum?"
"Yair, fair dinkum."

"So be fair dinkum, and vote yes, yes for an Australian Head of State." -- Rt Hon Bob Hawke, Former Prime Minister of Australia, 31 October 1999

Fair dinkum is a prime example of Australian slang, meaning ,genuine, real, square, honest (Use of the phrase clearly outlined by simonc). While it has always been seen as a typical Australian idiom, the irony is that it actually comes from the Chinese langauge.

In the 1850s the discovery of gold in Victoria, brought an influx of migrants, particularly Chinese in search of their fortune. Down in the mines, fools gold (some other mineral like pyrite, with a metallic gold sheen) was often mistaken for the real thing. However, when the Chinese miners did stumble across gold they would shout out Din gum! Din gum! - meaning real gold in Chinese.

Every school kid in Victoria that has been on an excursion to Sovereign Hill should already know this!

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