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Australian Aboriginal Didgeridoo Tribal Names and Spelling



The Australian Didgeridoo has many names and many spelling variations for this traditional Aboriginal musical instrument. Although this unique musical instrument from Australia has been spelt as Didgeridoo in English for many years, according to the Australian Institute for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies the accepted English spelling is now Didjeridu.

Individual Aboriginal tribes have through tradition and language variations used completely different names for the Didgeridoo, with at least 45 different known names. Studies have shown that many early Didjeridus were made from bamboo and this is reflected in many of the names - bambu, bombo, kambu, pampuu which all refer to bamboo. Other names for didgeridoo which are dialectically similar to bamboo are garnbak, illpirra, martba, Jiragi, Yiraki and Yidaki.

Australian Aboriginal tribes and cultures from different regions in Australia use different names for the didgeridoo.

Aboriginal Tribe Australian Region Didgeridoo Name
Anindilyakwa Groote Eylandt ngarrriralkpwina
Arrernte Alice Springs ilpirra
Djinang Arnhem Land yirtakki
Gagudju Kakadu garnbak
Gupapuygu Arnhem Land yiraka
Iwaidja Cobourg Peninsula wuyimba
Jawoyn Katherine artawirr
Lardil Mornington Island djibolu
Mayali Alligator River martba
Ngarluma Roebourne kurmur
Nyul Nyul Kimberley ngaribi
Pintupi Central Australia paampu
Warray Adelaide River bambu


Didgeridoos have many spellings, and misspellings, in English. The most commonly used names are didgeridoo, didjeridu, didjeridoo, didgeridu and the shortened forms didge, didj and didg. The most commonly accepted Australian Aboriginal name for this ancient musical instrument, Yidaki, is also commonly used by non-Aboriginals. Common misspellings, which normally omit the second "d", are digeridoo, dijeridoo, dijeridu, digereedoo, dijerido and digerido. Pluralising the name also creates many variations with didgeridoos, didjeridoos, digeridoos, didgeridos, didjerudus and dijeridoos being the most common.

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