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

arvo afternoon

Ashes, the Property of Australia

avago To attempt to do something


barbie Barbecue

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

brekky breakfast

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.

bushed exhausted

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.

chockie chocolate

chook a chicken

chrissie Christmas

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

lingo language

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


Macca’s McDonald’s

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

OS overseas

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!


peckish hungry

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

preggers pregnant

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)

spud potato

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 suspicious

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

veggies vegetables

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?’


zonked exhausted