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The word aboriginal was used in Australia to describe its Indigenous peoples as early as 1789. It soon became capitalised and employed as the common name to refer to all Indigenous Australians.

The word has been in use in English since at least the 17th century, to mean "first or earliest known, indigenous". It comes from Latin, Aborigines, derived from ab (from) and origo (origin, beginning).The more acceptable and correct expression is Aboriginal Australians or Aboriginal people, though even this is sometimes regarded as an expression to be avoided because of its historical associations with colonialism. Indigenous Australians has found increasing acceptance, particularly since the 1980s.

Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. Indigenous Australians migrated from Africa to Asia around 70,000 years ago and arrived in Australia around 50,000 years ago. The Torres Strait Islanders are indigenous to the Torres Strait Islands, which are at the northernmost tip of Queensland near Papua New Guinea. The term "Aboriginal" is traditionally applied to only the indigenous inhabitants of mainland Australia and Tasmania, along with some of the adjacent islands, i.e.: the "first peoples". Indigenous Australians is an inclusive term used when referring to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders.