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.

General phrases

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.

Yonder Australia is a “real time” interactive news and learning platform for people for moving country.


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