Definition of dingo in English:



  • 1A wild or half-domesticated dog with a sandy-coloured coat, found in Australia.

    Canis dingo, family Canidae

    • ‘Meanwhile, the wild dingo living in the outback existed on a diet that ranged from kangaroos to small rodents.’
    • ‘The dingo, a wild dog, is thought to have contributed to the tiger's demise on mainland Australia and in Papua New Guinea.’
    • ‘Police marksmen with Aborigine trackers were hunting for two dingoes or wild dogs who attacked the boys on Fraser Island, scene of a spate of attacks in recent years.’
    • ‘This muscle is infrequent in humans but is commonly found in the dog, fox, wolf, jackal, panther, and the dingo.’
    • ‘We chose dingoes because they are more vocal than foxes.’
    • ‘Some species live in light woodlands, although most generally prefer open country where their great speed is an advantage in escaping dangers such as Australia's wild native dog, the dingo.’
    • ‘The dingo, one of Australia's many indigenous animals, is also, like the kangaroo, something of a national mascot.’
    • ‘What he realised is that the Australian dingo is the original canid that formed an alliance with humans.’
    • ‘The only possible predators - the dingo and the Tasmanian wolf - were already being shot and kept in check by the sheep ranchers.’
    • ‘I've made sure he is not dead, in a coma, in a witness relocation program, been carried off and devoured by wild dingos, suffering from amnesia or has recently been kidnapped by aliens.’
    • ‘This is settled but authentically wild, with koala in tall, thick gum trees, shy but visible wallabies and a black dingo, a bush dog that glares balefully at visitors but never approaches.’
    • ‘Because they prey on calves and sheep, dingoes and wild dogs are viewed as a threat to livestock.’
    • ‘Australia has long battled its native wild dog the dingo, but now domestic hunting dogs have bred with dingoes to produce a larger, aggressive feral dog.’
    • ‘New DNA research has found that Australia's iconic wild dog, the dingo, probably descended from a family pet brought to the continent 5,000 years ago.’
    • ‘But it was generally agreed that the dingoes were keeping the wild pigs away.’
    • ‘Apart from being chased by a wild dingo, nothing has disturbed the gentle pattern of his existence.’
    • ‘By the campfire at night we'll hear the wild dingos call’
    • ‘She has always maintained that a dingo - a wild dog - took her baby.’
    • ‘The bureau defines ‘wild dogs’ as domestic dogs gone wild, dingoes, and their hybrids.’
    • ‘Aborigines used dingoes as hunting dogs, and valued them as companions.’
  • 2Australian informal A cowardly or treacherous person.

    weakling, milksop, namby-pamby, mouse
    View synonyms


[no object]NZ, Australian
  • Behave in a cowardly manner.

    ‘he dingoed out because he did not have the nerve’
    with object ‘you have dingoed it on every occasion’
    • ‘It is inconceivable that they would have dingoed when faced with a by-election opportunity.’
    • ‘It would look like we'd dingoed it if we transferred now.’
    • ‘Rumours circulated among other Australian units that the tanks had “dingoed” it.’
    • ‘I complied with their decision, but I have always felt that I dingoed it.’
    • ‘You ain't dingoing it, are you? You can't toss in the towel now.’


  • dingo's breakfast

    • informal No breakfast at all.

      ‘after a dingo's breakfast he set off back to Adelaide’
      • ‘The next morning I went for my usual Australian dingo's breakfast and noticed the loo wouldn't flush.’
      • ‘He can't even cook. Well, he can handle a dingo's breakfast.’
      • ‘Men turned up at dawn to get a place in the labour queue, their stomachs rumbling or cramping with hunger after a dingo's breakfast.’
      • ‘He shook his head, “Had me a dingo's breakfast.”’
      • ‘We resorted to a dingo's breakfast, before continuing on our passage north.’


Late 18th century: from Dharuk din-gu ‘domesticated dingo’; dingo (sense 2 of the noun) dates from the mid 19th century and alludes to the treachery popularly associated with the dingo.