What does the phrase “not this little black duck” mean? I know it’s common among Australian people but I am not sure what does it mean.

  • 4
  • 1
    Is it common among other anglophone countries?
    – user463286
    Sep 6, 2022 at 14:35
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    Never heard it in the US. Are all the ducks in Oz black, too? Sep 6, 2022 at 14:50
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    I've never heard it in the UK. Sep 6, 2022 at 16:16
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    @KillingTime You should turn that into an answer.
    – Barmar
    Sep 6, 2022 at 21:27

2 Answers 2


It's a direct reference to the Looney Tunes cartoon Daffy duck. In multiple episodes, when confronted with a difficult situation he walked away stating "not this little black duck". As in:

Your not telling me what to do/I'm not walking into that situation.

For example: What a confirmed bachelor might say being set up on a blind date with a woman who is 6 months pregnant.

  • Confirming it is a direct reference to Daffy Duck, and caught on in Australia since it was a very typical thing to say down here. For those looking for deeper meaning, sorry to say there was no resonance with black Australians, ethnic underdogs, rallying cries etc. - it was a simple, funny thing that we kids picked up from watching TV.
    – M Quarmby
    Mar 17 at 6:18

As an Australian I can say I’ve never heard the expression. However, it does seem to be valid and is explained in World Wide Words on:


In brief, according to this source, it is used as an indication that the speaker is not so stupid as they are being taken to be.

Following a comment from Stuart F (thank you), I quote the source of the link which said, in part:

"The consensus is that it does come from the Warner Bros Daffy Duck cartoons, Daffy, of course, being a small black duck who used it as his catchphrase. Quite why Australians took this particular character to their hearts is a topic for some sociologist in need of a thesis. . . .

[Apparently] Daffy’s catchphrase is indeed said to have appealed first to black Australians. Presumably they were able to identify with this black underdog character, or at least find a rallying cry in his catchphrase as an indicator of ethnic pride. But how it shifted into the wider Australian community is still far from clear."

  • This answer, which provides a good reference, really needs to be combined with the other answer which explains that it comes from Daffy Duck. Please include information in your post rather than just providing a link, just in case World Wide Words ever disappears.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 25, 2022 at 11:40

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