Definition of King Billy in English:

King Billy


  • A generic term for an Aboriginal leader.

    ‘they imposed hierarchy on Aborigines by appointing King Billies and requiring them to wear identifying trinkets’
    • ‘This particular measure does not seem to have had any marked effect except perhaps in helping to set up a number of tribal King Billies to confuse writers on native ways.’
    • ‘At one time when a stranger approached a blacks' camp the juvenile King Billies would disappear into the gunyans.’
    • ‘Ballarat council looks set to name its newest suburb after one of the city's most famous historical elders, Mullawallah, or King Billy as he was commonly known.’
    • ‘He was one of at least three Wathaurung men in the region given the title King Billy by European settlers.’
    • ‘The paper was handed to him by the aboriginal King Billy and contained only these words,'Goodbye, sir.'’


Mid 19th century: probably a jocular allusion to the British king William IV.