Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bonzer adj.

also bonsa(r), bonser, bonz, bonza(h), bonzalina, bonze, bonzerino
[a voiced variant of earlier boncer/bonsor/bonser, borrowed from Hampshire dial. boncer ‘a large marble.’ In the absence of previous cited evidence, it appears that this iconic ‘Australian’ term is actually a borrowing of a NZ original. For detail see J. Lambert: ‘What makes a Bonzer Etymology?’ (accessed at home page or https://bit.ly/3kU80jO) Cf. bonster adj.]

(Aus./N.Z.) used to denote something positive, or lit. or fig. substantial in size.

see n.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Jan. 27/4: My interpretation of boshter is a splendid thing, or person. It is sometimes an adjective [...] It is compared in the Australian Slanguage Text-Book thusly: Boshter, splendid; Bonzah, more splendid; Bontostah, most splendid.
[Aus]West Australian (Perth) 10 Oct. 10/2: [advert] Cricket. – Now on view, a Bonzer assortment of Bats (by leading manufacturers) Balls (Composition and Leather), Stumps, Pads, Gloves, and every accessory to the game.
[NZ]Greymouth Eve. Star 15 Feb. 3: The discoverers, who, though working in pairs, were dividing mates, have applied for a claim which all hope will prove a ‘bonza’.
[NZ]Waikato Indep. 12 Apr. 5: I got a bonzer ‘fence’ for fowls - take as many as you can get.
[Aus]Laverton and Beria Mercury (WA) 14 Feb. 2/5: They Say [...] That if you want a real bonza night’s amusement roll up to the Workers’ Hall on the 24th.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 July 17/1: There’s allers bits o’ jobs about the Farm: [...] keeps a bloke in bonza fettle.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 30 Nov. 2/3: I reckoned I was on a bonzer wicket.
[Aus]Brisbane Courier 29 May 6/3: [...] the ‘bonzalina’ footballer.
[Aus]Euroa Advertiser (Vic.) 26 Apr. n.p.: The phrase ‘bonzer boshter’ may be used for a hundred things.
[NZ]Timaru Herald 14 Jan. 3: I don’t figure out where ‘bashter’ [sic] comes from. Is it ‘boshter’ or ‘bosker’? Oh, ‘bonza,’ is it? Well, I heard it a lot in the railroad cars in different ways. Is ‘bonzarino’ the same thing? Oh, it’s the feminine, it is? Sure, I thought it was the same. Well, that means ‘swell’ or ‘dandy’ or ‘great’ or ‘fine.’ I guess those words are better than ‘boshter’ or ‘bonzer’ .
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Nov. 30/2: I am much annoied because the Bulletin cracked up the toll Sistem for Telephones. The way you talked about It I thought I was going to have a Bonser Time.
[Aus]Punch (Melbourne) 7 July 2/3: Let us hope his Boy Scouts are real bonzah.
[Aus]Dly Herald (Adelaide) 20 Aug. 15/3: ‘I’m goin’ to chuck this an’ go back to her; she’s the bonzerest little tart I ever saw’.
[Aus]Bunbury Herald (WA) 5 Noov. 4/3: The merits of the programme submitted was summed up by the genial Canon in a very few words. It was, he said, at least ‘bonsa,’ if not ‘bontosta,’ possibly ‘bontosterino’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth, Aus.) 25 Feb. 14/1: ‘What do you say if you saw a pretty girl going down the street, you know?’ ‘Oh, we’d call her a “bonza tart”’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 13 Dec. 8/8: He didn’t say ‘boshter’ or ‘bonz’ or bellow ‘ryebuck’.
[Aus]I.A. Williams diary 19 Dec. [Internet] At 4.45am we boarded a lighter which took us to the H.M.S. ‘heroic’ A bonza and very fast boat.
[Aus]Wedderburn Exp. (Victoria) 29 Jan. 2/5: The Nile is a bonzer river.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth (Wellington) 20 May 2: There is a bonzer lot of supporting items.
[US]Rising Sun 25 Dec. 8/2: Our biscuits, now, for mending roads [...] Or armour plating round the Tanks — / They’d make a bonzer scheme.
[US]Rising Sun 1 Feb. 4/2: ‘Our Old Tin Hat’ [...] It’s uses they are many; / It will cook some fine burgoo, / Or make a bonza dixie / For some soup or bully stew.
[UK]B. Baynton Trooper Jim Tasman in The Complete Barbara Baynton 93: ‘Ther bonza fright I ever ’ad in ther course ov me whole natural was when I was about fourteen’.
[Aus]Nambour Chron. (Qld) 13 Dec. 15/2: A bonzerer mate I never found / Then you – givvus yer mitt.
[Aus]Brisbane Courier 8 Jan. 7/7: The girl I had was a ‘bonsor’ pal, and we sort of knew each other right away.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 4 Nov. 20/1: Struth! its bonz to be the skipper of a full-rigged racin’ stripper.
[Aus]Gosford Times (NSW) 11 Nov. 12/3: When your old beard has grown a week, / Friend Charley Hunt you ought to seek; / He’ll place you in his bonser chair, / And shave you well and cut your h--r.
R.J.H. Moses in Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 10 Dec. 25/1: ‘Anyhow, it is a bon—’ ‘Ah please don’t. I hate your Australian idioms’.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘A Woman’s Way’ in Chisholm (1951) 89: Blackwood an’ wattle trees is bloomin’ gay / Blotchin’ the bonzer green with golden dust.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 1 Mar. 21/2: ‘Top hole’ with me is quite taboo, / Ai now say ‘Bonzah’ – just laike you.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 32: Bonza, also Boshta: Good. Excellent.
[UK]V. Palmer Passage 86: Isn’t it bonzer you’ve won?
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Haxby’s Circus 168: By God, she’s a bonza kid.
[Aus]Listening Post (Perth) 25 Apr. 28/2: ‘You look fine when you’re mad, Missus. Never saw a bonzerer!’.
[Aus]L. Mann Flesh in Armour 41: ‘I’ll get a cup of tea when they come in,’ she said. ‘That’ll be bonzer!’ he said.
[Aus]N. Lindsay Saturdee 177: By crips, Trix is the bonzerest absolutely girl that ever was.
[Aus]J. Truran Where The Plain Begins I 63: ‘’Er an’ Auntie Grace ‘ud make a bonzer pair for standin’ outside a side-show; my oath they would’.
A. Crocker Aus. Hops In (1941) 54: ‘Wasn’t that bonze, Alick?’ he wanted to know, when he could speak; and Alick agreed between his own chuckles that it was bonze.
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 15 Mar. 4/2: It was a bonser box [...] worth wads of dough.
Alexandra Herald 6 July 1: ‘I love the bonzer steaks she cooks’.
[Aus]S.J. Baker Pop. Dict. Aus. Sl. 12: BONZER: Good, excellent. (‘Bonzerer,’‘bonzerest’ are occasionally used.).
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 5: They tell me she’s got a bonzer mate.
[Aus]N. Lindsay Halfway to Anywhere 87: ‘Polly Tanner’s the bonzerest girl I ever met.’‘Absolutely,’ confirmed Waldo. ‘Not only a bonzer girl for untying us, but a bonzer girl herself.’‘And a bonzer looking girl,’ added Waldo. ‘Bonzerest looking girl in town,’ chanted Bill.
[UK]‘Josephine Tey’ To Love and be Wise 162: ‘I can come to the Yard? OK, thank you. Thank you very much, sir. That would be just bonza.’.
[Aus]D. Cusack Caddie 209: Caddie! That’s a bonzer name all right.
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 209: Then he’d eat a bit of bread and say, ‘Bonza roast beef’.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 230/2: bonzer (bonza, bonzerino) – good, a good thing.
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 159: He went on merrily telling Jazzer what a bonzer sheila Mumsy was.
[US](con. WWII) R. Leckie Marines! 54: Yer a bonzer boy, Yank.
[Aus]J. Wynnum I’m a Jack, All Right 16: This, incidentally, will also give you a bonzer holiday away from the sea.
[UK]Galton & Simpson ‘Cuckoo in the Nest’ Steptoe and Son [TV script] I’m going to buy you both some slap-up tucker in a bonza frog caff.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 180: How come a bonzer bird like you turned crooked in the first place — sport?
[Aus]S. Thorne I’ve Met Some Bloody Wags! (1983) 83: ‘You’ve gotta smooch up to the old babblin’ brook mate. We’ll probably get a bonzer feed now – wait and see’.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 17/2: bonzer excellent, most pleasing, attractive; [...] aka bonza.
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 2 Oct. Guide 9: [N]ot once in this half hour does Lisa utter words such as ‘strewth’ or ‘bonza’ or ‘I’m as dry as a dead dingo’s donger’.
[Aus]Penguin Bk of More Aus. Jokes 40: That’ll be great [...]. That’ll be bonzer.
[UK]J. Cameron Brown Bread in Wengen [ebook] ‘Easy peasy innit. Bonza‘.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 58: bonzer [...] seems to have reached us from the Spanish via the Americanism for large, rich mine or other source of wealth, a bonanza.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 29: bonza/bonzer [...] Pleasing or well regarded.
[Aus]K. Richards Aussie Bible 14: God is bonzer – and to everyone on this planet who’s on God’s side: peace and goodwill.
[Aus]N. Cummins Adventures of the Honey Badger [ebook] [cover] The New All Bonza Adventures of Australia’s Ambassador of the Lingo.

In derivatives

bonzering (adj.)

rewarding, of high quality.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 30 Apr. 30/1: Jist listen to me fer a second: / I’ve ’it on a bonzerin’ lurk.
bonzerness (n.)

excellence, i.e. the quality of being bonzer.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Sydney) 26 July 22/5: They had evidently seen the show on the previous night, and they discussed the degrees of bonzerness or boskerity attained by the different acts.
bonzerosity (n.)

excellence, i.e. the quality of being bonzer.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 20 Dec. 15/3: I think he is wrong in giving ‘bonzarina’ as the feminine of that classic word. I have always heard the latter used as denoting the ne plus ultra of bonzarosity, without distinction of sex.