Seppo

/ (ˈsɛpəʊ) /

noun plural -pos

Australian slang an American

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Word Origin for Seppo

C20: from Septic Tank, rhyming slang for Yank; see Yankee
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

ABOUT THIS WORD

What else does seppo mean?

Seppo is a mildly derogatory Australian slang term for an American, shortened from septic tank.

How is seppo pronounced?

[ sep-oh ]

Where does seppo come from?

The term seppo is Australian slang used to make fun of Americans. It’s said to come from rhyming slang, with Yank rhyming with septic tank. Septic tank was ultimately shortened to seppo, with the O-ending common in Australian slang (cf. avo for avocado). Seppo is seen by at least 1967.

And what do Americans have to do with septic tanks? Well, as mentioned above, Yank rhymes with septic tank, so there’s that. But also, this slang term implies some Australians’ view of Americans: that, like septic tanks, they’re full of sh**. The United States was dubbed Seppo-land as early as 1996.

Seppo is the name of a Zen Buddhist Master mentioned in several koans. Another famous Seppo is the nickname for the character Ilmarinen in the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. This Seppo means “smith” and is often used as a name in Finnish and other Scandinavian languages.

How is seppo used in real life?

Seppo is most often used by Australians and New Zealanders. It’s mostly used to contemptuously refer to Americans, those bloody seppos.

It can be a serious or humorous insult. It’s often a little bit of both.

Like the Japanese baka gaijin, seppo is sometimes adopted by Americans living Down Under in humorous self-deprecation.

As noted, Seppo is also a male given name in Finland and the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Apparently, it was most popular in the 1940–50s, but it is still somewhat used today, including by a popular Finnish dog.

More examples of seppo:

“We commonly pin the blame for the death of Aussie slang on our anklebiters-cum-adolescents and their love of seppo (short for “septic tank”, rhyming slang for Yank) slang…But it’s worth noting seppo influence has been a lexical and moral concern at least since the introduction of American “talkies” in the 1920s…”
—Kate Burridge & Howard Manns, ABC (Australia), January 2018

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.