AskDefine | Define smoko

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A break from work, normally used onboard ship. Pronounced “smoke-O”. British Merchant Navy Slang.


Extensive Definition

"Smoko" (also "smoke-o" or "smoke-oh") is a term used in Australian English, New Zealand English and Falkland Islands English for a short, often informal, cigarette break taken during work or military duty, although the term can also be used to describe any short break such as a rest or a coffee/tea break. Among sheep shearers in Australia, "smoko" is a mid-morning break, between breakfast and lunch, on which a light meal may be eaten.
The term is believed to have originated in the British Merchant Navy, and was in use as early as 1865. The tradition of a smoko in the Australian sense seems to have begun amongst sheep shearers in the 1860s.
Although a slang term, the word "smoko" has been used in government writing and industrial relations reports, to mean a short work break.

Smoko as an Australian institution

The smoko break in Australia has become an institution symbolic of working culture and even of workers' rights. The Australian Industrial Relations Commission has arbitrated cases of industrial action over workers' entitlement to a smoko break.
There are, however, considerable health and productivity concerns about smoke breaks, and non-smoking workers are sometimes concerned that their smoking colleagues take more time on breaks.
In 2006, the Australian government's Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources banned the "smoko" from its Canberra offices, prompting then Health Minister Tony Abbott to declare that the "smoko has had its day". It is also the name of a small settlement in the Victorian Alps.


smoko in German: Smoko
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