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A Beginner’s Guide to Australian Slang

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When you learn English you’re taught how to speak and write ‘proper’ English. Then you visit an English speaking country and start hearing some very strange slang terms. Australian slang is certainly ‘interesting’! Whether you’re dreaming of visiting Australia, have just arrived or have been in this gigantic island of paradise for a while, there are a few Australian slang words that you should learn to help you get through day to day life.

Although Australia is an English speaking country, arriving into the country with little knowledge of the most popular Aussie slang words may just get you into a few awkward situations. Aussies have a tendency to shorten most words in the English vocabulary. You will soon become accustomed to this! Here are a list of some common slang words that should help you get by…

100 Australian Slang Words & Phrases

  1. A Cold One – Beer
  2. Arvo – Afternoon
  3. Aussie Salute – Wave to scare the flies
  4. Bail – To cancel plans. ‘Bruce bailed’ = Bruce isn’t going to turn up.
  5. Barbie – Barbecue
  6. Bathers – Swimsuit
  7. Beauty! – Great! Most often exclaimed as “You Beauty”
  8. Billabong – A pond in a dry riverbed
  9. Billy – Teapot (In the Outback on the fire)
  10. Bloody – Very. Used to extenuate a point
  11. Bloody oath – yes or its true. “You right mate?”… “Bloody Oath”
  12. Bludger – Someone who’s lazy, generally also who relies on others (when it’s someone who relies on the state they’re often called a ‘dole bludger’)
  13. Bogan – This word is used for people who are, well let’s say, rednecks. Or, if you like, just call your friends a bogan when they are acting weird.
  14. Booze Bus – Police vehicle used to catch drunk drivers
  15. Bottle-O – Bottle Shop, basically a place to buy alcohol
  16. Brekky – Breakfast
  17. Brolly – Umbrella
  18. Bruce – An Aussie Bloke
  19. Budgie Smugglers – Speedos
  20. Bush – The Outback.
  21. Cab Sav – Cabernet Sauvignon
  22. Cactus – Dead, Broken
  23. Choc A Bloc – Full
  24. Choccy Biccy – Chocolate Biscuit
  25. Chook – Chicken
  26. Chrissie – Christmas
  27. Ciggy – a Cigarette
  28. Clucky – feeling maternal
  29. Cobber – Very good friend. ‘Alright me ‘ol cobber’.
  30. Coldie – Beer. ‘Come over for a few coldie’s mate.’
  31. Coppers – Policemen
  32. Crikey – an expression of surprise
  33. Crook – Being ill or angry; ‘Don’t go crook on me for getting crook’
  34. C*nt, the “C” word – Used when exchanging pleasantries between close friends or family member. If someone calls you the “C” word in Australia (and you haven’t done anything to make them angry), then breathe a sigh of relief… it means you have entered the mate zone.
  35. Dag – Someone who’s a bit of a nerd or geek.
  36. Daks – Trousers. ‘Tracky daks’ = sweatpants (tracksuit pants)
  37. Deadset – True
  38. Devo – Devastated
  39. Drongo – a Fool, ‘Don’t be a drongo mate’
  40. Dunny – Toilet
  41. Esky – An insulated container that keeps things cold (usually beers)
  42. F*ck Me Dead – that’s unfortunate, that surprises me
  43. Fair Dinkum – ‘Fair Dinkum?’ … ‘Fair Dinkum!’ = Honestly? … Yeah honestly!
  44. Flannie / Flanno – flannelette shirt
  45. Frothy – Beer
  46. G’day – Hello
  47. Galah – an Australian cockatoo with a reputation for not being bright, hence a galah is also a stupid person.
  48. Going off – busy, lots of people
  49. Good On Ya – Good work
  50. Goon – the best invention ever produced by mankind. Goon is a cheap, boxed wine that will inevitably become an integral part of your Australian backpacking experience.
  51. Hard yakka – Hard work
  52. Heaps – loads, lots, many
  53. Hoon – Hooligan (normally driving badly!)
  54. Knickers – female underwear
  55. Larrikin – Someone who’s always up for a laugh, bit of a harmless prankster
  56. Legless – Someone who is really drunk
  57. Lollies – Sweets
  58. Maccas – McDonalds
  59. Manchester – Sheets / Linen etc. As someone who’s from England, finding a department within a shop called Manchester seriously confused me at first.
  60. Mongrel – Someone who’s a bit of a dick
  61. Mozzie – Mosquito
  62. No Drama – No problem / it’s ok
  63. No Worries -No problem / it’s ok
  64. Nuddy – Naked
  65. Pash – to kiss
  66. Piece of Piss – easy
  67. Piss Off – go away, get lost
  68. Piss Up – a party, a get together and in Australia – most social occasions
  69. Piss – (To Piss) to urinate
  70. Pissed – Intoxicated, Drunk
  71. Pissed Off – Annoyed
  72. Rack Off – The less offensive way to tell someone to ‘F Off’!
  73. Rapt – Very happy
  74. Reckon – for sure. ‘You Reckon?’… ‘I reckon!’
  75. Rellie / Rello – Relatives
  76. Ripper – ‘You little ripper’ = That’s fantastic mate!
  77. Root Rat – someone who enjoys sex (maybe a little too much)
  78. Rooted – Tired
  79. Runners – Trainers, Sneakers
  80. Servo – Service Station / Garage
  81. Sheila – A woman
  82. Shoot Through – To leave
  83. Sickie – a sick day off work, or ‘to pull a sickie’ would be to take a day off when you aren’t actually sick
  84. Skull – To down a beer
  85. Slab – A carton of beers
  86. Snag – Sausage
  87. Stiffy – Erection
  88. Stoked – Happy, Pleased
  89. Straya – Australia
  90. Strewth – An exclamation of surprise
  91. Stubby – a bottle of beer
  92. Stubby Holder – Used so your hands don’t get cold when holding your beer!
  93. Stuffed – Tired
  94. Sunnies – Sunglasses
  95. Swag – Single bed you can roll up, a bit like a sleeping bag.
  96. Tea – Dinner
  97. Tinny – Can of beer or small boat
  98. Thongs – Flip Flops. Do not be alarmed if your new found Australian friend asks you to wear thongs to the beach. They are most likely expressing their concern of the hot sand on your delicate feet.
  99. Tucker – Food. ‘Bush Tucker’ tends to be food found in the Outback such as witchety grubs.
  100. Two Up – A gambling game played on Anzac day.
  101. U-IE – to take a U-Turn when driving
  102. Ya – You
  103. Yous – (youse) plural of you!
australian slang - aussie slang
Image from flickr

How To Speak Australian

Once you’ve been in Australia for, well, an hour, you’ll notice that nearly every word has an ‘o’ on the end of it. This is because for some weird reason Australians like to shorten every word and then add a vowel to the end of it… e.g. “bottle-o” (Bottle shop / off license) “servo” (garage / service station).

Oddly though, some of these words end up being longer than they were originally. At other times they’ll just add a different vowel instead of the ‘o’. MacDonalds, you know that famous fast food burger joint, is only known as Macca’s over here! I think the video below perfectly illustrates this unique way of speaking Australian!

Australian Phrases & Sayings

Some phrases can be a bit more difficult to work out than the abbreviations Australians use. When someone exclaimed to me: “OMG check out his budgie smugglers” I really had absolutely no clue what they were talking about. Let’s just say it only refers to men, and they tend to be wearing speedos!

I was at the bar and my friend says “it’s my shout mate“. Huh?! This is an important one to know. If it’s their shout they’re going to be paying. Another common one to hear at the pub is “he’s blotto“… Yeah don’t buy that guy another drink he’s already had too many!

The word “bogan” is a typically Aussie slang word as well. This word is used for people who are, well let’s say, rednecks. Or, if you like, just call your friends a bogan when they are acting weird.

If you find yourself in a bit of an argument and you begin to act unreasonably you might be told to “pull ya head in“, if however you’re right (stubborn) and you really want the other person to believe what you’re saying you can say “fair dinkum mate“.

Worried that something isn’t going to plan? “No worries, she’ll be right mate” – It’s not a problem, everything will be okay!

Put some snags on the barbie” – this is a statement you’ll hear way more often than “Put a shrimp on the barbie”… why? Well because snags, i.e. sausages, exist, whereas in Australia shrimps don’t… they’re known as prawns!

I was doing a little googling on this particular topic and came across a website, called the Australian slang dictionary. Scanning through it I found an expression that I just had to share: “He’s got kangaroos loose in the top paddock“. The meaning of the phrase? Someone who is a bit wacky. Or, as the dictionary says in a prettier way; someone who is intellectually challenged.

Top Tip! If you’re really stuck but want to seem as though you’re beginning to learn some of the local Australia language – the lingo if you will, always say hello by saying “G’day” and always add “mate” to the end of every sentence.

Now you’ve learnt some Australian slang and phrases why not try some typical Aussie Food?

Or Learn about some Australian Animals (A-Z list with pictures and facts)

49 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Australian Slang

  1. “budgie smugglers” really is just guys wearing speedos 😉 When people used to smuggle birds they would stuff them into tight underpants – this is where it comes from ;P

    1. Really? I always assumed it’s because a penis in a tight ‘environment’ looks like the shape of a small trapped bird!

  2. #89 It’s not so your hands don’t get cold while your drinking…’For Pete’s Sake’ It’s so your beer stays cold, yer Drongo. Who cares about yer hands mate.

  3. Always thought a “goon” was another word for flagon (large bottle of wine). At least this is what we referred it to before the cask of wine was invented (and I’ve been around for sixty years).

  4. Mark’s right. The goon was originally a flagon. Usually sherry or brown muscat. Cheap as chips too.
    Disagree with #80 – Sickie. This is a day off work without being actually sick. When you wake up and just say fug it.

  5. Other phrases I’ve heard. The “Mort” referring to the wife. “Putting the blacksmith on ya”. Or being locked out of the house by the wife after too many hours in a pub.

  6. A couple more:
    Starkers – To be naked; wearing your birthday suit
    In the bolocky – same as above
    Yacka – work; usually hard yacka
    Flanno – flannelette shirt

    1. Yakka is under Hard Yakka (no. 50), starkers I really think is very British. Have added Flanno though. Have never heard anyone say in the bollocky – lol 🙂

  7. Heaps you missed dunno if ya know most the slang…like a terrier=never gives up ….pull your head in…mongrel can mean a few things like if someone is a beast at footy they can be a mongrel in a good way…same as grouse I think it’s spelt that in Victoria they use that as great,cool,awsome,but you made a good list,keep it going.

  8. Taking the piss, is a big one but is that same in UK to like it means you’re making fun or making someone believe nonsense.

  9. There are also dictionaries for slang language available online. This is the way languages are revolutionized. Who knows that the words we call slang today may become part of the regular English someday and may come into writing as well.

  10. chuck a blocky- similiar to a U-ie except wider going round a block, also used when searching for a house or place

  11. Tinny may be a area or state saying, like grouse in Victoria meaning great.
    I have heard it used “get me tinny from the fridge luv’
    Another one is port meaning suitcase or school bag used in QLD and northern NSW shortened from the French word portmanteau which also the word porter comes from

  12. A lot of non Aussies would definitely not get a lot of these terms, even Maccas as Mcdonalds sounds a bit far off. Aussie slang is definitely fun to listen to and if you’re planning to visit or live in Australia, well you gotta gear up and polish your knowledge on Aussie terms. Interesting how everyone connects the word mate to Aussie’s favorite word call for others! Ha ha.

    1. James Clarke, I’m Aussie, born and raised. Maccas is the only way everybody over here calls Mac Donalds. That and Hungry Jacks for Burger King. Cheers, Bruce.

  13. Jeez ‘aussie’ – No need to go off like a raw prawn.
    Everyone uses the word ‘tinnie’ for a can of beer.
    You’re not livin’ in a cattle truck mate 😉 Pull your head in.

    You flaming bum nut

  14. Just a note on a couple:
    Bush – doesn’t mean outback. It means wood/forest. To go bushwalking is to go hiking. Outback’s outback.
    Root -to root is to have sex. ‘Ave a root’. Haven’t heard anyone use rooted as tired before.
    Barrack- to follow/root for a particular sports team. Aussies would laugh at the word root in this context (see above).

  15. Maybe come to Vic if you have never herd someone say there rooted it’s a very common term for tired and unless your going fishin everyone calls a beer a tinny you silly Muppets

  16. “How you going?”

    Is a phrase that has nothing at all to do with what bicycle, bus,Uber or train you plan on taking to get there, or go home!

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