Ask a Local

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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