First time to Australia? Or been here before and still not sure what the locals are saying? Here’s a guide to Aussie English to help you understand the natives whilst you are in Oz. Bonza!
a few Kangaroos loose in the top paddock someone who is mentally not quite there, also picnic short of a sandwich, not the coldest can in the fridge, lights are on but nobody is home, etc.
aggro the state of being angry and aggressive over a situation
ankle biter small child, also called a rug rat
any tic of the clock very soon
apples, she’ll be everything will be OK or alright
Ashes, the Property of Australia
avago To attempt to do something
barney an argument or fight
barrack to cheer for your team in sport
bathers swimmers or togs
beaut very good or excellent, perhaps even desirable. Generally pronounced bewd or bewdie.
bee’s knees the absolute best, perfect, the greatest
bloke an Australian male. To call someone a “good bloke” is to give them a compliment.
blowie a blowfly, a large and very noisy fly
bonzer great, excellent
BS Translated as: “I question the veracity of your statement”
buggerlugs affectionate term used to mildly annoy somebody
bunyip A mythical aboriginal bush spirit animal that lives in swamps and billabongs. It can also be used to describe an ugly woman.
bush the Australian country. It is used to describe both the location, far away from the city, and more importantly the typical natural vegetation.
bushranger an outlaw or highwayman, similar to the outlaws of the American Wild West. The most famous is Ned Kelly.
by jingoes an exclamation of surprise
cactus something has had it, doesn’t work anymore, or someone in a lot of trouble.
cark it to die or cease operation
carn a rallying cry at football games to cheer your team on. Short for “Come on!”
cheesed off very annoyed
chew the fat To have a pleasant conversation with someone. Also called a chinwag.
chewy chewing gum
choc a block Full up with no space left at all. Also caked Chockers.
chook a chicken
chuck a spaz get angry demonstratively
chuck a U ey to make a U-turn
chuck a wobbly to have a fit of temper
chunder to vomit. Legend has it that the term hails from the time of the long ships that transported convicts to Australia. It was a twelve month trip and the seas would often be stormy causing the ships to roll from side to side; a prescription for sea sickness. The convicts were housed in bunk like beds which was generally where you ended up if you were feeling ill. A convict on the top bunk who was about to vomit would yell “Watch out under” to warn the inhabitants of the lower bunks of the pending delivery. As with most Australian slang, the phrase “Watch out under” got shortened to “Chunder” – or so the story goes. Your airline will hopefully be much smoother…
clapped out broken down, will no longer work
cobber a friend, generally male but not necessarily
cockie short for a type of parrot known as a cockatoo. Also a cockroach.
codswallop an exclamation showing disbelief in what has just been said, equivalent to “Rubbish!”, or a polite way of saying “BS”.
dag A term for a funny person, nerd, goof, loser. In this respect it can have either an endearing or disparaging meaning, although is usually used for a likable fellow.
daks a man’s trousers or shorts
dead cert a certainty beyond doubt, a sure winner, especially when referring to horse or dog races
dead horse tomato sauce
dead ringer an exact copy, likeness, or replica. Something/someone that looks exactly the same as something/someone else.
dead set used to indicate that something is correct. Also can be used to question the truth of a previous statement.
deli Delicatessen, a small local shop that sells assorted foods and other daily necessities. Called a Milk bar in Victoria.
derro a derelict, also used disparagingly for a low intellect person. Collingwood supporter.
didjeridoo An Australian Aboriginal musical instrument made from a hollow log. It is used in Corroborees, religious ceremonies, and thus has great spiritual significance.
digger A soldier from the Australia Army who served Turkey during the First World War. So named for their tenacity in “digging in”, both literally and emotionally. Australian Diggers are well respected, particularly on ANZAC day.
dimwit a person of low intelligence, usually used as an insult
dingaling, dingbat a foolish or irresponsible person
dingo Australian wild dog. Brought to Australia thousands of year ago by the Aborigines.
dinkum real, honest or genuine. Can also be used to question validity, e.g.., dinkum? See also fair dinkum.
dinky di the genuine article or the real thing, especially if the object is from Australia. See also True Blue, and fair dinkum.
dirty to be angry or annoyed about something or with someone
dirty bird KFC
dob in to inform on or to grass, considered a social sin
dodgy below standard, awkward, suspicious or underhanded
dog’s breakfast a mess
dog’s eye meat pie
donkey’s years a long time, ages. See also Yonks.
doona a bed quilt usually filled with feathers
down under Australia, THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!
drongo a stupid, inept, awkward or embarrassing person, a dimwit or slow-witted person, a fool.
duck’s guts the heart of the matter, the basic information required without the unnecessary waffle
dud something that is no good, useless, doesn’t work or is a lemon
dunno don’t know
dunny toilet or lavatory, originally an outside toilet or outhouse, now a generic term for the toilet regardless of location. Sometimes referred to as the Thunder Box!
easy on a request for someone to calm down in a heated moment
elbow grease implies hard work or effort (hard yakka)
esky a portable insulated container for keeping food or drink cool. A shortening of the word Eskimo.
fair go to give some one an equal opportunity or equitable treatment
fair go mate! a plea for an equal opportunity or equitable treatment
flake fillets of shark meat, used in fish and chips
flake out to lie down or to collapse from fatigue
flat out going at full speed, as fast as possible, or busy
flat out like a lizard drinking extremely busy and under pressure from work
footy short for Football. However it is nearly always pronounced with a ‘d’ i.e. foody
from go to whoa literally from start to finish
fussed worried, either “fussed” or “not fussed”
gab to chatter or gossip
ga-ga to be mad, loony, or insane
galah an endearing term for a fool or silly person. Also a particularly noisy parrot
galoot a foolish person
gander, ‘ave a to have a look
garbo the garbage man
g’day the universal Australian friendly greeting, as in hello. Pronounced “Gidday”, a shortened form of “Good Day”.
get nicked an exclamation of contempt, or to get caught in the act
give it heaps to not hold back. i.e. to make sure a car would go up the hill, you would “give it heaps”, put your foot down on the accelerator. To give someone heaps is to give them a talking to for doing something wrong, or to make fun of them for doing something silly.
gizmo a generic term for an apparatus or tool that either doesn’t have a name or the real name for which cannot be remembered
grouse bloody awesome mate
gun to be gun at something is to be very good or the best at something e.g. a gun player is the best player
hang on wait a moment
happy as a pig in s..t very happy
have a burl, have a crack, have a go to attempt to do something considered a little difficult
heaps lots, similar to mucho etc., see also give it heaps
hen fruit eggs
hoick to lift, jerk, or throw in a somewhat inelegant manner
home and hosed used to indicate that something has been completed successfully and easily. The implication is that the horse has run his race and is “home and hosed” before the other runners come in.
hoof a foot
hoof it to walk rather than take transport
hooroo goodbye, see you later
hum dinger an excellent something. Something is a real hum dinger
I kid you not I am telling you the truth
idiot box television, often abbreviated to “the box”
iffy used to indicate that something is a bit suspicious (suss)
I’m easy not worried, not concerned, or has no preference to the outcome of a choice
in a tic in a moment, very shortly
in the bag a forgone conclusion that the job is as good as done, the game is as good as won, etc.
jack of something to be sick and tired of something or doing something
jackaroo a young male station (ranch) hand or apprentice
jaffle a toasted sandwich
jersey sweater, see also jumper
jiffy a very short time. To do something in a jiffy is also instantaneous.
jillaroo a female jackeroo, see jackaroo
Joe Bloggs the average person in the street
joey a baby kangaroo still in its mother’s pouch
jumbuck a sheep
kafuffle a commotion
kangaroo Legend has it that when the white man first came to Australia he asked an Aboriginal the name for the funny looking creature bounding in the distance. Apparently the Aborigine replied “Kangaroo” which means “I don’t understand you”. So now we have an animal called “I don’t understand you”. Dinkum? Dunno, but an amusing story nonetheless.
kaput something is broken ruined beyond repair
keen as mustard extremely enthusiastic
kick in the teeth a set back
kick the bucket to die. Same as to push up daisies, keel over
kip a short sleep
knackered puzzled or exhausted
knee high to a grasshopper very short
knock to criticise
knock back to refuse something, or to eat or drink something hurriedly
knock off to stop work for the day
lame brain a foolish or unintelligent person
lamington An Australian delicacy, made from sponge cake cut into squares, and covered in chocolate and coconut. As Homer would say, “Mmmm… Lamingtons”
lead foot a fast and reckless driver
legend a person who excels, is a champion or hero, or all around good guy
lob to arrive
lob in to call on someone or to drop in to see someone
local rag local newspaper
lolly, lollies sweets made with sugar. UK = sweeties.
Lucky Country Australia, THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!
lug to carry, usually something heavy and for a long time or distance
make tracks to leave, depart or head off
manchester household linen
mate a general greeting term and familiar greeting amongst men whether a friend or total stranger. Similar to Cobber.
mexican some one south of the border. i.e. a Victorian is a Mexican to a New South Welshman, who is a Mexican to a Queenslander.
milk bar a small corner shop selling general daily foodstuffs and newspapers
misery guts a constant complainer
molly dook a left handed person
mollycoddle to fuss over or pamper unnecessarily
moo juice milk
mozzie a mosquito
mucking around simply playing around with no real intent or purpose
mystery bags sausages. So named because you don’t really know what the ingredients are. See also snags.
never never a desert region of the Northern Territory of Australia, popularised by the book ‘We of the never-never’
new Australian a migrant to Australia
ocker a stereotyped uncultivated or uncultured Aussie male who exhibits excessive drinking of alcohol, womanising, chauvinism, and worships the God called Footy! To call a female ocker is to suggest that she is somewhat butch. Similar to the US redneck. See also yobbo.
off the beaten track away from the main traffic, to use seldom used roads or simply to avoid civilisation
old chook a disliked and interfering woman. From chook meaning chicken. The reference is perhaps to being Hen Pecked.
oldies the parents
on for young and old used to indicate that a situation is out of control, usually referring to a fight or an argument
onya an expression of encouragement, short for good on you
out in the sticks out in the bush, away from civilisation, in remote areas
out of whack out of calibration or disorderly
outback basically away from civilisation or major settlements
outhouse toilet, dunny
Oz alternate spelling of Aus, short for Australia, God’s country. THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!
pie floater a meat pie floating on a thick pea puree. Look terrible, tastes good, particularly on a cold winter’s night.
piker someone who either does not join in with others, or gives up an activity before it is finished
plodder a slow worker, but one who eventually gets the job done
polish off to finish or complete something. Used to polish off a meal, or to polish off a job
pom, pommy A person from England, probably derived from Prisoner Of Mother England. Usually followed by another word…
possie, pozzie position
prang an accident or crash, usually with a car
prawn a shrimp, also a foolish person
pressie present, gift
pull the pin to stop an activity or withdraw support
pull up stumps to stop an activity, usually for the day and usually to go home
quack a doctor, especially a bad one
rack off go away, used when very angry with someone
rapt short for of enraptured
ratbag a contemptible or obnoxious or untrustworthy person
razoo a fictitious coin made from brass. The term is usually used to indicate that someone has no money. “I don’t have a brass razoo!”
rellies short for relatives
ridgie didge genuine, the real thing
rip off to cheat
roo short for Kangaroo
roo bar a strong metal bar at the front of vehicles to protect them against hitting a Kangaroo. In the bush hitting a Kangaroo can be dangerous. They move fast and can swerve on a pin point. So you could be driving along and suddenly there is a roo bouncing off your bonnet. And they are big, solid and heavy, and can easily total a car.
ropeable extremely angry
sack a bed. Used as “hit the sack” = go to sleep
sanga, sanger a sandwich
scarce as hen’s teeth very scarce or very rare
schoolie a teenager of school age or just graduated
seppo, septic tank a derogatory term for an American, “septic tank” rhyming with “yank”
servo a service station, where you purchase petrol
sheila a common term for an Australia female, usually single and probably good looking. It probably originated from the high number of female immigrants from Ireland called Sheelagh
she’ll be apples, she’ll be right, she’ll be sweet everything will be OK, there is no need to worry
shirty to be niggly, upset, or even angry
shonky low or suspect quality, either of a thing or a person’s character
shoot through to leave or disappear, usually in a hurry
sickie a day off work, although often the reasons for taking a sickie have nothing to do with sickness or health but rather with recreation and enjoyment. On a very hot day, it is amazing the number of people who take a sickie.
singlet a sleeveless cotton undershirt
skedaddle to depart quickly
skint broke, absolutely NO money
slacker a person who either does not work or who tries their best to get away with doing as little work as possible.
slog hard and strenuous work, See also Yakka.
smoko originally a 10-15 minute break from work for a cigarette, it now means a break for a cup of tea/coffee.
snag a sausage
sook a weak-willed person who is likely to burst into tears at the slightest provocation. Also called a cry-baby. Sleeps with the light on.
spag bol spaghetti bolognaise
sparkie an electrician
spit the dummy to make up a fuss, to have a tantrum (chuck a tantie)
stickybeak an overly inquisitive or nosy person who cannot mind their own business
strewth an exclamation or expression of amazement, perhaps short for “its the truth”
strine Australian Slang. Strine is a nasal contraction of “Australian”
stunned mullet used to describe the look on someone’s face who has absolutely no idea what you are talking about
suss, to to inspect or look into a situation. Also to suss out
sussed used to indicate that something in a situation has been investigated and is now understood or figured out
swaggie, swagman from the Great Depression era, a wanderer who travelled the countryside looking for casual work when work was scarce in the cities. He would take along enough possessions in his Swag. A swagman = a tramp.
sweets dessert for dinner, or another word for candy and lollies
swot, to to study hard, usually whilst at school
tall poppy a successful person or achiever who, as a result, is the target of jealousy and grudging remarks
tea the evening meal and usually the main meal of the day
thongs rubber sandals, called flip-flops in the UK on account of the noise they make when walking. Called jandals by the Kiwis!?
tingle, to give someone a to give someone a telephone call
togs bathers or swimming costume
tomato sauce the correct name for ketchup
too right an affirmation or agreement
troppo crazy or insane. Not necessarily a mental disorder. A description of the way people can go crazy in the tropics as it is bloody hot
true blue a genuine, 100% Australian person or thing. Also implies pride
tucker food. A good feed is good tucker
tyke small child, usually aged 3-6 years or so
up yourself having a large ego
ute a utility vehicle, invented in Australia
vegemite a savoury spread, made from an extract of brewers yeast, eaten on sandwiches and toast. Delicious!
happy little Vegemite a happy and contented person. Derived from an advertising campaign recently revived where happy children eating Vegemite are described as happy little Vegemites
veg out to relax and do nothing
wag to skip school
walkabout go for a long walk, Aboriginals used this period for spiritual enlightenment
Waltzing Matilda the unofficial Australian National Anthem
what for severe punishment, as in “to give what for”
whinge to whine or complain incessantly. See Pommy.
willy nilly without thought or organisation
witchetty grub white tree boring grubs. Eaten raw or cooked by Aborigines.
wonky unstable or in a bad condition that adversely affects performance.
woofer a dog
woop woop a unidentifiable, mythical place inland a long way away and far from civilization
wrapped extremely happy
yabby a small freshwater lobster/crayfish
yack a talk, as in get together for a yack
yakka hard manual labour. Also, hard yakka
yank tank An American car
yarn, to to have a talk or discussion with someone
yobbo an uncouth person
yonks a long time, ages
youse plural of you. Pronounced the same as “ewes” e.g. ‘I love youse all’ or ‘What are youse mob up to?’