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See also: Joey



  • IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒoʊ.i/
  • enPR: jōˈ.ē
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -əʊi

Etymology 1[edit]

Unknown. Older and more general sources state that joey comes from an Australian aboriginal language, but newer sources that focus on Australian English and aboriginal languages say the origin is unknown. The Australian National Dictionary includes a sense of “young possum” with citations predating the earliest “young kangaroo” citations.


joey (plural joeys)

  1. The immature young of a marsupial, notably a junior kangaroo, but also a young wallaby, koala, etc.
  2. The shorter word whose letters can be found within a kangaroo word.
    • 1998, Richard Lederer, Dave Morice, The Word Circus (page 129)
      Among the kangaroo words that yield the most joviality and joy are those that conceal multiple joeys.
    • 2005, Anu Garg, Another Word a Day (page 132)
      Sometimes a kangaroo word has more than one joey.
  3. (Britain, prison slang) A parcel smuggled in to an inmate.
    • 2012, John Hoskison, Inside: One Man's Experience of Prison:
      "Visit in two days though," said Tommo. "Hang in there mate, got a joey coming, we'll be sweet then."



  • joey” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Joseph Grimaldi.


joey (plural joeys)

  1. (theater, circus) A kind of clown.

Etymology 3[edit]


joey (plural joeys)

  1. (Britain, military, slang) A member of the Royal Marines.
    Synonym: jolly

Etymology 4[edit]

From Joey Deacon, who was the focus of Blue Peter's 1981 charity campaign. The programme was aimed at children, who then picked the term up and used it as an insult.


joey (plural joeys)

  1. (slang, derogatory, offensive in Britain) A person with cerebal palsy.
  2. (slang, derogatory, offensive in Britain) A stupid person.

Related terms[edit]