An Essential Lesson For Living In The Land Down Under
While many movies and marketing campaigns have had a crack at Aussie slang over the years in mainstream media, Australians have developed a unique lingo that can be tricky for visitors to grasp. Forever praised for our sense of humour, when you don’t understand a reference in our presence, expect a friendly joke at your expense. While it may seem trivial, the slang we’ve developed is both funny and gives you a window into Australian life. It resonates with our unique perspective and the stories we tell. You can learn a lot about who we are, what we value and our broader cultural narrative, just by learning some of the key phrases.
We hope that by preparing yourself with our crash course in Aussie slang, you will learn a little more about your new home….or at least avoid a ripping from your new Aussie pals when you ask what a ‘dunny’ is!
So here are a few famous Australian words and phrases you should learn before moving here.
Aggro – aggression
Arvo – the afternoon
Bogan – an insulting phrase to someone who is poor, uncultured and uncouth from Australia.
Buggered – to be tired
Bruce – an Australian man
Cabbie – a taxi driver
Chokker – very full
Cobbler – a good friend
Crikey – a saying for when you are surprised
Deadset – to be certain of something or suggest something is true
Devo – shortening of the word devastated
Drongo – a fool or an idiot
Fair dinkum – true, genuine
Flat out – to be very busy
G’day – good day or hello
Gnarly – very cool or extreme
Heaps – lots of something
How You Going – How are you / what have you been up to?
Hundy – agreeing with you 100%
Mate – friend, used at the end of a lot of phrases
Mutt – an insult, comparing someone to a dog
No dramas – no worries or no problem
Nuddy – naked
Postie – a postman
Rapt – to be happy with something
Ripper – to express something is good
Root – sex
Sheila – an Australian woman
Sick – to express something is good
Sickie – a sick day at work
Stoked – to be happy
Tradie – a tradesman
True Blue – a real Australian
Billabong – A pond in a dried up river bed.
Bottle-o – a bottle shop that sells alcohol.
Maccas – McDonalds
Outback – the arid unpopulated centre of Australia
Servo – the service station or gas station
Straya – Australia
Woop woop – a very far out destination or the middle of nowhere
Food & Drink
Avo – avocado
Barbie – BBQ
Biccy – a biscuit
Bluster – a lazy person
Brekky – breakfast
Bush tucker – food found in the outback
Chocky – chocolate
Chook – chicken
Esky – a cool box filled with bottles and ice
Goon – cheap wine that is sold in boxes or bags
Grog – any type of alcohol
Legless – a very drunk person
Middie – a glass measuring 285ml
Parmi – a chicken parmigiana (schnitzel with tomato purée, ham and cheese on top)
Sanger – sandwich
Schooner – a glass measuring around 425ml
Skull – to down a drink
Slab/Carton – a crate of beer
Snag – a sausage, typically cooked on a barbecue
Stubby – a drink that comes in a bottle, typically referencing a bottle of beer
Stubby holders – a beer bottle cooler
Tinny – a can of drink, typically beer
Tucker – food
Vego – vegetarian
Activities, Objects & Animals
Bathers/Togs – swimsuit
Footy – Australian rules football, not American football or soccer
Lappy – laptop
Mozzies – mosquitos
Petty – petrol
Prezzie – a present
Thongs – flip flops
Ute – a large pick up truck
Roo – a kangaroo
Sunnies – sunglasses
History and influences on ‘Australian English’
After the first English settlers in 1788, it took about forty years before people started to notice a different language and lexicon developing in Australia. Despite the term ‘Australian English’ only being officially recorded in 1940, the language has been evolving for over 200 years. Initial settlers started to create a separate dialect as an act of solidarity with one another. These were the early stages of Australia’s settlers developing their own cultural identity. The first generation of settler’s children born in Australia were further galvanised around this identity, rebelling against their English ties. From a sociological point of view, this sense of community and identity is how most regional accents or dialects develop in different geographical locations from the same mother tongue.
In these formative years, some aboriginal words were adopted for a few key things. However, relationships with native people were very hostile and the native language’s influence on Australian English has been limited to a few phrases. The dominant influences on Australian English have now been attributed to three main areas:
- The discovery of new flora and fauna that exists only in Australia.
- Immigration during critical times e.g. the gold rush.
- Modern Australian urban lifestyle e.g. food, drink and leisure activities.
Regional Aussie Slang Words
Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, but has the 55th largest population. This means a lot of our states and regions have developed their identity separate to other areas. This has resulted in many Aussie slang words unique to particular destinations or cultures. Depending on where you end up settling in Australia, be sure to do your own linguistic exploration. Learn from the locals and quiz Aussies you meet. Everyone picks it up pretty quick!
Want to learn more about Aussie culture? Why not check out our article on Aussie cuisine.