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Useful Notes / Australian Slang

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"Our troops serving together in Afghanistan, our guys, the Americans, couldn't figure out why your guys were always talking about cheese. All day long, morning, noon and night, "why are the Aussies always talking about cheese?" And then, finally they realised it was their Australian friends just saying hello — just saying "cheers"."
Barack Obama, at an Australian state dinner, commenting on the American unfamiliarity with Australian accents and slang
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A country that was first populated by indigenous people with a diverse set of religions, languages, and cultures, who were then shoved aside and colonised by convicts and settlers, with a large British presence until great politicians and leading minds decided independence was a better tack. This could describe both America and Australia. You'd think such places would develop similar slang. But they didn't.

Australia has a unique and dizzying variety of colloquialisms. Australian English owes its uniqueness to many factors: Australia's isolation from other English-speaking nations like Britain and America, the particular mix of settlers and the countries they come from (including the pronounced Cockney and Irish English spoken by the lower-class convicts sent there before the gold rush), and the bizarre and often deadly flora and fauna whose descriptions required native borrowings and linguistic creativity in equal measure.

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The following list of Aussie slang is not exhaustive, nor can it hope to be. Part of the problem is that slang tends to change frequently, so many of the items on the list might be considered hopelessly dated, or at the very least not widespread. Others may be similar to British or American slang but will still sound funny to someone unfamiliar with them, or they provide a logical but unexpected twist to existing British or American terms. Here goes:

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The grand list of Australia-specific slang terms

  • Arse-over-tits: To fall over dramatically, e.g. "He tripped over the cord and fell arse-over-tits". One of the few to actually make more sense than the regular English phrase "head over heels", since your head is pretty much always over your heels.
  • Aunty: The ABC, Australia's state broadcaster. The British sometimes use the same expression to refer to The BBC.
  • Back o' Bourke: If you travel beyond (either west or north of) the town of Bourke in northern New South Wales, you are officially in the Outback — the vast, empty, middle of nowhere that characterises most foreigners' conceptions of Australia. Confusingly, there are equivalent terms "Back of Beyond" and "the other side of the Black Stump", which refer to different reference locations, and all we know about "Woop Woop" is that it's somewhere in the general vicinity.
  • Barrack: To support, usually in the context of a sports team, most commonly in the west and south of the country with respect to their AFL teams. The term is used in Britain, but to mean "to insult or abuse", which is what an Aussie who barracks for his team is likely to do to the opposition. Nothing to do with Barack Obama. Cf. American "root for" a team — since root is also on this page as slang for something else, Aussies tend to be quite amused by Americans using "root" to mean "barrack".
  • Bastard: A very complicated word in Australian English. It can be used as an affectionate term of address to one's friends, or as a generic term of abuse and low regard (but without the connotations of illegitimate parenthood). An Australian can get away with calling his friends bastards, but if you're not Australian, it's best not to try it. The distinction between positive and negative uses must be gleaned from context; tone of voice trumps modifying adjectives in this respect, so it may or may not be a good thing for you to be a lucky bastard, a miserable bastard, or even a fucking bastard. Considered relatively mild compared to a stronger but just as common Australian word, listed elsewhere on the page (you'll know it when you find it).

    The best example to illustrate the nuance of the word comes from a Cricket tour when the English team's captain Douglas Jardine knocked on the door of the Australian dressing room to complain to the Australian captain Bill Woodfull that one of his teammates had called him a bastard. Woodfull turned to the dressing room and roared out, at the top of his voice, "Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?"
  • Bin chicken: An ibis. These birds inhabit parks around Brisbane and Sydney and habitually eat scraps and rubbish. Lends itself to the title of the adult animated series Bin Chickens and also used in an episode of Bluey.
  • Bingle/Prang: A minor car crash, cf. American "fender-bender". In Australia, though, occasionally extended to non-cars.
  • Billabong: An outback lagoon or swamp.
  • Bloke: Guy or dude, used identically in Britain and New Zealand.
  • Bloody: The Great Australian Adjective. Although it's by no means exclusive to Australia, Aussies use the word a lot. It's usually used as a modifier to denote emphasis (e.g. "Get a bloody move on!") Australians are fond of emphasis, and will insert the word any-bloody-where they like.
  • Bludger: A slacker, layabout, or generally lazy person. A "dole bludger" is a bludger on welfare (cf. roughly American "welfare queen"). Nothing to do with the injurious Quidditch balls in Harry Potter.
  • Bodgie: Formerly, the Australian term for the 1950s Teddy Boy subculture. The Distaff Counterpart is a "widgie."
  • Bogan: The Aussie term for its particular variety of Lower-Class Lout. Roughly equivalent to the British "chav" or American "white trash", but distinct enough in Australia to be a trope of its own. The typical bogan will wear ripped jeans; have a mullet; hold a stubbie or bong from which he drinks large quantities of cheap beer (preferably domestic — Foster's, VB, XXXX Gold); work as an unskilled labourer; drive a big, powerful, old, clapped-out Ford Falcon or Holden Commodore; outfit such car with an obnoxiously loud sound system; use that sound system to continually blast hard rock or pub rock music (e.g. AC/DC, Cold Chisel, Rose Tattoo, Airbourne); and say "fuck" whenever possible. See also! An interesting variation is the cashed-up bogan (best described on the website "Things Bogans Like"). Most visible in Australian media through the protagonists of Kath and Kim.
  • Bottle-o: A liquor store.
  • Boy racer: A young motorist, usually male, who drives a vehicle with excessive, obnoxious, and largely cosmetic modifications. Known for their poor driving etiquette and disregard for the rules of the road; may also hoon. Term is also found in Britain and New Zealand, where it means the same thing.
  • "Blind Freddie": A fictional entity used as a simile to illustrate the obviousness of a particular situation ("Even Blind Freddie could have seen she wasn't interested in him.")
  • Buckley's chance: No chance, or almost no chance. Sometimes shortened to just "Buckley's". Likely derived from the improbable survival of escaped convict William Buckley. The variant "Buckley's and none" describes a situation involving two outcomes, one with a very small chance of success and the other with no chance at all; that's probably a play on the name of the now-defunct department store chain Buckley & Nunn.
  • Budgie-smuggler: A Speedo. Comes from the appearance of the wearer smuggling a budgerigar in his swimsuit. The American term "banana hammock" is sometimes used, usually when it would be funnier. See also dicktog (same thing but less polite).
  • Bugger!: Expression of something gone seriously wrong. Identical to the British and New Zealand usage. Cf. American "Oh, Crap!". Also used as a commiseration (e.g. "I burnt my dinner last night." "Oh, bugger.") or combined with "up" as a phrasal verb for when you've gone and made a complete mess of something (e.g. "Well you've gone and buggered that up now, haven't you?").
  • Bung: As an adjective, broken-down or malfunctioning ("The car's gone bung"). As a verb, to place or put something in somewhere ("Bung your plate in the sink, love.").
  • Bungers: Mental, crazy, insane. The phrase "go bungers" can be used to mean "help yourself" (e.g. "There's plenty of grog in the fridge, so go bungers") — cf. "go nuts" or "knock yourself out". "Bungers" can also refer to small firecrackers.
  • Bunyip: A mythical beast, the Australian equivalent of the Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti (although Aboriginal Australian Myths have no shortage of weirder creatures). The term "bunyip" comes from some Aboriginal language, but good luck finding out which one; it's usually translated as "spirit", but a more accurate translation might be "monster". If you ask three people to define a Bunyip specifically, you'll get five different descriptions — it can be anything from a little nuisance to Ultimate Evil. Some tribes identified the bones of the now-extinct "giant wombat" Diprotodon as being those of the Bunyip.

    The related term "Bunyip aristocracy" was coined by journalist Daniel Deniehy in the 19th century in criticism of attempts to codify an Australian system of titles, suggesting that such an aristocracy did not exist and might as well be a myth (had it come to fruition, the most likely candidates for ennoblement would have been the "squatters" - pastoralists who freely claimed land they thought was uninhabited and used it for grazing, growing wealthy off of low-paid lower-class & Indigenous labor). It's still thrown around in modern-day Australian politics at people who have fanciful notions of being an upper-class quintessential gentleman like you see in Britain, most famously used by (left-wing) Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating at one of his (right-wing) Liberal opponents.
  • Bush doof: Britons, think raves - a (not-always authorized or legal) dance party held, as the name implies, somewhere far away from law enforcement (as attendees frequently come prepared with MDMA/ecstasy).
  • Cark it: To die.
  • Carn: A corruption of "come on", usually pronounced with a very drawn out "ah" sound (e.g. "Aw, caaarn, let's go to the pub!") If you hear a drunk making a cawing noise (and they are not a galah), this is what they're trying to say. Most often used at football games and other sporting events, usually with the name of the team involved (e.g. "Carn the Kangas!") Its phonetic similarity to a certain naughty word can make for an interesting-sounding exhortation — cf. the Frenzal Rhomb song "Kaan Kaant".
  • Chat: Awful. Named after the Sydney suburb of Chatswood, first used in Sydney's North Shore before spreading rapidly through the rest of the country.
  • Cheers: Thank you. Also used in Britain. Unlike in Britain, Australia has the variant "Cheers, big ears!" — simultaneously insulting and affectionate, like much Australian slang. (The appropriate response to that one is "Same goes, big nose!")
  • Chin-wag: a casual, light-hearted conversation, like "chit-chat" (which is also common Down Under).
  • Chockers/Chock-a-block: Very full, overcrowded.
  • Chookas: A term of endearment & expression of good luck mostly heard amongst the queer performing-arts community.
  • Chuffed: Pleased (e.g. "I'm so chuffed you picked me!")
  • Claytons: A fake or substitute (what we might call a Bland-Name Product or Captain Ersatz). Named after Claytons non-alcoholic wine (the tagline: "The drink you have when you're not having a drink").
  • Cockie: A farmer; also either a cockatoo or a cockroach.
  • Coo-ee: Originally a type of yodel used to draw attention to oneself across a long distance, it has become a yardstick for judging probability (i.e. "The 'Pies aren't within cooee of winning the premiership this season").
  • Crack the shits: to get angry or frustrated.
  • Cricket terms are common in Australian slang. Even the word "cricket" itself can be used as slang, as in the phrase, "That's just not cricket" to mean something is out of line, unfair, or ridiculous (used in Britain the same way). Many cricket terms have some equivalent in American baseball slang, especially Sexual Euphemisms — but given that cricket has terms like "back pad", "silly mid on", and "deep fine leg", it's got an even greater inventory to offer a filthy-minded Australian.
    • Dig in: To keep playing/perservering despite having little chance of winning or succeeding.
    • Hit for six: To be surprised and heavily defeated or wrong-footed, possibly even Megaton Punched. It's sort of the cricket equivalent of a home run in baseball, but the American slang term "home run" means something different (i.e. a sure thing, a great success), although an Australian might say they were "hit for six" after an encounter with a Home Run Hitter.
    • Let through to the keeper: To actively decide not to deal with a difficult subject. Cf. American "to punt", from American Football.
    • Pack up one's bat & ball & go home: to leave somewhere in a huff.
    • Play a straight bat: To be simple, honest, and direct. Comes from a Boring, but Practical defensive batting move.
    • Sledge: To Trash Talk in an unbecoming manner. Cricket is quite open to Trash Talk, but it has to actually be clever. If you're just going to insult or abuse someone, that's... well, just not cricket. Obviously quite subjective, but given that Australians are quite talented at creative insults, their cricketers have elevated their trash talk to an art form. The proper response to sledging is a witty comeback. A good example is this exchange between Australian bowler Merv Hughes and Pakistani batsman Javed Miandad:
      Javed: You should be driving buses — you're too fat to be playing cricket.
      Merv: (bowls Javed out) Tickets, please.
    • Stumped: Confused, befuddled, at a loss for solutions. Same usage as in America, but in Australia it doubles as a cricket term, making it a very vivid image.
    • Sticky wicket: A difficult situation.
    • Wrong'un: An unexpected problem or setback. Cf. American "curveball" in baseball — the terms are roughly equivalent sportwise, referring to a ball that is delivered in such a way as to spin differently from what one would expect.
  • Crikey!: Expression of surprise. Made famous to most Americans by the series Crocodile Hunter, made famous to the greater Internet by the renowned independent news website crikey.com.au.
  • Cunt: A complicated word to use in Australia. The term derives from a vulgar name for female genitalia, and in the U.S. and Canada is considered a very rude and sexist term for it (or for women in general). In Australia, it can mean that... or it can be a familiar means of address, like "mate" or bastard. Australians are aware of the North American squeamishness around the word and have been known to exploit it (e.g. Australian comedian Kevin "Bloody" Wilson's song "You Can't Say Cunt in Canada", first performed in Canada). Variants include "sick cunt" (usually a compliment for doing something awesome), "mad cunt" (usually a compliment for doing something awesome), "Oi, cunt!" (standard greeting for one's friends), "shit cunt" (undesirable individual), "right cunt" (undesirable individual who's also extremely rude and ill-mannered), and "dog cunt" (someone who betrays or maliciously takes advantage of a friend or colleague).
  • Cuppa: Shorthand for "cup of", usually used in reference to a spot of tea (e.g. "I'll just have a cuppa.") Also used in Britain.
  • Dacks: Broad slang for trousers, shorts, or underwear. Tracksuit pants are called "trackie dacks". "Dacking" refers to the Pants-Pulling Prank.
  • Daggy: Naff, out of fashion. Someone who frequently exhibits daggy behaviour can be referred to as a dag. A reference to the clumps of dung that get stuck to the arses of sheep.
  • Deadly: In Aboriginal English, very good or cool. The annual awards for artistic & charitable achievements in the Indigenous community are known as the Deadlies. Similar to Afro-Caribbean "wicked". Don't be surprised if you see this word appear in slogans or adverts.
  • The Deep North: The more conservative northern regions of Queensland and the NT, referring in particular to the perceived redneck sensibilities of its inhabitants. Borrowed from and used similarly to the American term "The Deep South".
  • Dicktog: A Speedo. See budgie-smuggler; means the same thing, but much less polite.
  • The ditch: The Tasman Sea, separating Australia from its neighbour New Zealand. Travelling to New Zealand is considered going "across the ditch" (even Australians like to say this in a Kiwi accent, as "the dutch.") Cf. "the pond", referring to the Atlantic Ocean separating Britain and the United States.
  • Dink: To give someone transport on a bicycle by seating them on the crossbar. By extension, any act of giving someone a lift.
  • Dinky-di: Authentic, down-to-earth.
  • Drongo: An idiot or no-hoper. This term is distinctly out of fashion. Supposedly comes from the name of a 1920s racehorse who never came close to winning any of its races.
  • Durries: Cigarettes.
  • Fair dinkum: Someone who is honest, friendly, big-hearted. Also a questioning interjection (i.e. "No kidding?")
  • Fanny: Female genitalia. Also an implication of cowardice or weakness if used as an insult (cf. American "pussy"). Can cause great confusion for Australians when American media uses the same word to refer to the buttocks.
  • F.O.B.: Short for "fresh off the boat", used in several contexts to refer to certain immigrants. In Queensland in particular, it's used to refer to Torres Strait Islanders (the indigenous people of the Torres Strait, which separates Australia from Papua New Guinea). In Western Sydney, it can refer to Pacific Islanders who arrived from New Zealand. It's also used throughout Australia to refer to Asians who immigrated directly to Australia, especially by people of Asian ancestry who grew up in Australia as a form of distinctionnote . Often used as a self-appellation; some people consider the term offensive, others don't, but generally it depends on the context.
  • Football: Can refer to multiple different sports, all technically different codes of football. In much of the country (especially Victoria), it refers to Australian Rules Football, which itself can also be called "AFL" after its most prestigious league. But in Queensland and New South Wales, "football" can refer either to Aussie rules or to rugby, which itself can be either Rugby Union or Rugby League. "Footy" as short for "football" usually refers to Aussie rules. Association Football, or "football" in the British sense, is usually referred to as "soccer" like in America, but even then the term "football" can be used to refer to it if the context allows for it (e.g. if Australia are in the FIFA World Cup). "Football" in the American sense is almost always called "American Football" or "gridiron football", even though the occasional Aussie has played in the NFL.
  • Fuck a duck!: An expression of simultaneous belief and dismay — e.g. "Fuck a duck, there's a gigantic flying saucer hovering over the Harbour!" The variant "like fuck said the duck" is more of an expression of defiance (cf. "like fuck I will!") The variant "shit a brick" applies the format to one of the Internet's favourite expressions.
  • Fuckwit: A variant of "fucktard", in keeping of Australians' tendency to Cluster F-Bomb. It's got a longer heritage, is more conceptually coherent, retains the phonetic vigour of "fucktard", and avoids the Unfortunate Implications. Try it — you'll like it!
  • Furphy: A misleading statement that is not strictly a lie. Comes from the old Furphy water cars, where workers would stand around during a smoko and tell stories.
  • Galah: Idiot or fool, emphasis on the second syllable. Comes from the Galah, a cockatoo with very bright pink and white feathers, which has a rather hysterical-sounding squawk.
  • Gatho or Getty: A gathering or get-together. If you're in Sydney, this helps distinguish which part of Sydney you're in; easterners use gatho, westerners use getty.
  • G'day: An informal greeting, shortened from "good day". Not used to end a conversation as "good day" can be.
  • Goon: Boxed wine.
  • Gosford skirt: A short skirt. Named after the town of Gosford on the central coast of New South Wales, just south of another town known as The Entrance; the skirt is so named because it stops just south of The Entrance. The "Gosford gap" is what other places may call a "box gap".
  • Grot: Filth, or a particularly filthy person. Often used as an adjective (e.g. "That's so grot, dude"), although "grotty" can be used as effectively (as it might be in certain American dialects).
  • Grouse: Excellent, rhymes with "house". Fallen out of favour and now seen as Totally Radical.
  • Hectic: Can refer to anything between slightly busy to utterly batshit insane, but usually taken to mean "crazy in a good way". Cf. "nuts". E.g. "That party last night was hectic! I woke up naked five blocks away!"
  • Hoon: To travel at dangerous speeds or operate a vehicle (or other machine) in a rude or obnoxious manner, including speeding, burnouts, and gratuitous engine revving. Can also be used as a noun to refer to a person who engages in this behaviour.
  • Hooroo: Hello; goodbye. In some regional areas, it's still used as a metonym for a dedication on a radio station ("I'd like to give a big hooroo to Joe Bloggs").
  • Hump: To hump something (usually something large and bulky enough to be held against the torso or slung over the shoulders) is to carry it. To get the hump is to be disgruntled.
  • Humpy: A primitive outback dwelling, often no more than a dome-shaped mound made of corrugated iron, hessian sacks, and earth. Cf. British "bothy" or American "shack".
  • Jackaroo: Cattle drover, the Australian equivalent of a Cowboy. The female version is a Jillaroo.
  • Moll (sometimes "mole"): Not a Mafia Princess (usually), instead intended to mean "slut". Previously used by teen girls as a pejorative insult (see Kylie Mole from Fast Forward) and/or affectionate nickname.
  • Munted: Broken, messed up, but usually in a way that can be fixed (e.g. "Gah, my hair's all munted"). Can also mean hung over. In some regions (Victoria, southeast Queensland), the verb "to munt" can mean to vomit (usually while drunk); in Sydney, it's more often used to represent being intoxicated by... other recreational substances (e.g. "Mate, I'm feeling so munted, got any gum?") However it's used, it's an Inherently Funny Word; just let it roll off your tongue.
  • No worries: Don't worry, everything will be all right. Often shortened to "no'oreez" or "n'worriz". Variants include "not a drama" or "no wukkahs", the latter derived from "no wucking furries". "No worries" is pretty well-known around the world as Australian slang, often featuring in things like tourism ads.
  • "Occy straps": A type of elastic cord used to tether objects, especially common in surfing for the ankle strap that keeps you together with the board.
  • Peg: To throw an object very hard at someone, usually with the intent to hit them with it. Sometimes used in Britain and America as well.
  • Pingas: Slang for MDMA. Unrelated to the mondegreen from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog made famous on YouTube Poop, nor is it pronounced the same.
  • Pom: A British person, usually English. Often used instead of "Brit", because the phrase "Brit bastard" doesn't roll off the tongue nearly as well as "Pommy bastard", which is the usual expression by which Australians describe British people. It may have derived from "pomegranate", referencing the tendency of English cricketers playing in the Ashes in Australia quickly getting a sunburn (the Australian sun being so unlike the greyness they're used to). It may also be a backronym from "POHM", meaning "Prisoner of Her Majesty", or "POME", meaning "Prisoner of Mother England".
  • Pull a sickie: Skipping School or work by pretending to be sick. "Chuck" or "throw" are used interchangeably with "pull". "Wag" is a related term, but without even pretending to be sick.
  • Ranga: A redhead. Short for "orangutan" and originally meant to be insulting, but so overused that it's had all the edge taken off. Replaced the previous term blue, which is now seen as archaic but very typical of the early Australian contrarian style.note 
  • Root: To have sex. It's interchangeable with Australia's favourite word in pretty much every respect. "Wanna root?" is a coarse and unfortunately common proposition in Australian pubs. Australians may or may not be aware of the North American term "to root for [a sports team]"; if they do, they think it's hilarious. Not a word used in polite company, but there is the Sydney suburb of Rooty Hill, at which the politicians try and fail to look dignified come election season. Best illustrated by this seen in Bryce Courtenay's Brother Fish in an exchange between the Australian Jacko and the African American Jimmy:
    Jacko: Mate, we're stuffed. Rooted.
    Jimmy: Rooted?
    Jacko: It means we're fucked, up shit creek... It's Australian.
    Jimmy: Rooted! Hey, dat's good, man! I'm rooted.
    Jacko: No, that's not the same thing. When you say "I'm rooted" it means you're tired. "We're rooted" means we're stuffed, finished, washed up. "Get rooted" means piss off, beat it, scram. "I've been rooted" means I've been cheated or badly done by. "I rooted her" means I had sex with a woman.
    Jimmy: Whoa, man, dat Aus-tray-lee-an a mighty strange language for sure!
  • Scab: To get something for free by asking nicely (e.g. "Can I scab a ciggy off ya, mate?") or just being in the right place for long enough (e.g. "I'm making tea, you wanna scab some?").
  • Scarnon: A corruption of "what's going on?", and a typical greeting for one's friends.
  • Sepp, Seppo, or Septic: An American. Short for "septic tank". Not necessarily derogatory, but Americans just kinda have that reputation, y'know? Comes either from the idea that Americans are full of shitnote , or from Cockney rhyming slang for "Yank". (Australians consider all Americans to be "Yankees", while Americans do not.)
  • Sex and Bloody Soccer: Fun with Acronyms for SBS, Australia's other public broadcaster, so nicknamed because the standouts of its programming were traditionally European erotica and soccer games.
  • Shagged out: Tired, exhausted. Not as saucy as in Britain.
  • Shang: To pass, as in "Could you shang us the Vegemite?"
  • Sheila: A woman. "Shacked up with the sheilas" implies being in a bedroom with several women, probably all promiscuous. Fun fact: "sheila" derives from an Irish word for a homosexual. (It's a Long Story.)
  • She'll be right or She'll be apples: Don't worry, everything will be all right. See also No worries.
  • Shithouse: Crude slang for a toilet, but more often used as part of the phrase "built like a brick shithouse" (from old Cockney slang). Can also be used as an adjective like "shit" might — e.g. "That was a shithouse performance by [football team] last night."
  • Shit-stirrer: A troublemaker or Troll. Used in Britain with the same meaning, or in the U.S. with a slightly different meaning (there leaning more toward someone who deliberately stokes drama for the lulz).
  • Shonky: Poorly made, faulty, dubious, unreliable. Possibly a Shoddy Knockoff Product.
  • Selfie: To take a photo of yourself while holding on to the camera. Yes, this globally used term is originally Australian! And you can see it in its construction — shortening "self-portrait" and bunging an "-ie" at the end. Australians may or may not have also coined the related terms duckface (a selfie with your lips pursed, i.e. the "Blue Steel" look from Zoolander), food selfie (a selfie taken while eating, especially popular in Australia and Asia, and especially among Australians of Asian descent), and gym selfie (after a healthy workout, for whatever reason never showing the subject actually sweating). A particularly Australian selfie term is the Gosford selfie, in which a woman takes a selfie in a Gosford skirt.
  • Skip or Skippy: An Australian of Anglo-Saxon descent. Coined by Greek and Italian immigrants who were subjected to racial taunts (see wog) and wanted to return the favour. Comes from the TV show Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. "Skip Hop" is a genre of Hip-Hop music by these kinds of Australians. "Skippy" can alternatively be a crude slang for someone with one leg.
  • Skuxx: Particularly good-looking or attractive, if only temporarily so. Often self-applied, with all that implies. Originally came from New Zealand.
  • Smoko: Smoke break (even as smoking in workplaces has been progressively outlawed, the word still persists in application to coffee or tea breaks, and smoke breaks are still common in the trades).
  • Spewing: In a state of frustration (e.g. "I was spewing last night 'cause I couldn't find my car keys"). Sometimes used as an interjection. Spitting chips is similar. Related vaguely to the other sense of "spewing" meaning "vomiting", but this usage is more common.
  • Spruik: To publicly advocate for a product or idea — e.g. "The Prime Minister spent this week spruiking his new tax plan."
  • Squiz: A look at something — e.g. "Here, take the binoculars and take a squiz at the skyline."
  • Strewth: An expression of surprise (cf. "Oh god!" or "Jeez!"). A contraction of "God's truth", a common English curse of the colonial periodnote . No self-respecting Aussie would actually say "God's truth"; whether any self-respecting Aussie would say "strewth" is a matter of debate.
  • Stubby: A short squat bottle of (nearly always) beer, usually 375mL (~21 fl. oz) capacity, common in Europe and Canada but rare in the United States. A "stubby holder" refers to the rubber cover on the bottle that allows you to hold it without freezing your hands. Unimaginatively, the other type of beer bottle is called a "longneck", and what North Americans call a "40-oz." is known as a "tallboy".
  • Ta: Thank you. Interchangeable with Cheers. Also used in British English. Not to be confused with "ta ta", meaning "goodbye". Or with "the Tahs", short for the New South Wales Waratahs who play Rugby Union.
  • Thong: Simple sandals, what the Americans would call "flip-flops". The essential Aussie footwear. Not used to mean Barely-There Swimwear like in the U.S., although both terms come from the original meaning of a "thong" being a thin strip of material, and both items of clothing technically contain a "thong" in that sense. "Thong" in the shoe sense is known in America but seen as archaic, and not a mistake you really want to make (Zits made that joke once). The Australian usage is sufficiently distinctive that even in New Zealand they think it's funny (New Zealanders would call the footwear a "jandal").
  • Tinnie: A can of beer, as opposed to a stubby. Also slang for a small aluminium boat. Drink enough tinnies while you're in a tinnie, and you may not feel it when the croc takes your arm. Hurrah!
  • Too easy: Sure, okay, no problem, no sweat. Not used like in the U.S. to mean asking for something more challenging — nobody does that in Australia.
  • Tradie: A tradesperson, such as a chippie (carpenter) or sparkie (electrician). Used to be called a fluoro, for their ubiquitous high-visibility clothing.
  • Ute: A specific Australian variety of truck. Pronounced "yoot", from "utility vehicle". It's similar to an American pickup truck, but while a pickup is half-truck and half-trailer, a ute is half-car and half-trailer. This makes it smaller and more ideal as just a normal everyday car. It's okay for confused non-Australians (including advertisements) to call a ute a pickup, but not to call it an SUV.
  • Westie: A resident of the western suburbs or Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane. Since these suburbs tend to be lower-class, the term is usually synonymous with bogan. Inverted in Perth, where the eastern suburbs are the lower-class ones. Makes sense; rich people prefer to live on the coast.
  • Whatevs: An expression of acute indifference. Derived from the Australian tendency to be too lazy to finish words combined with the clarion cry of the disaffected youth of The '90s. The rest of the world has since cottoned on and borrowed the Australian saying.
  • Wog: Any person coming from certain countries around the Mediterranean, usually Greece, Italy, or any former Yugoslav state (although usually not France or other Balkan states like Bulgaria or Albania). As with most Australian words, it's highly offensive but often used in a totally non-offensive manner. "Wogball" is occasionally used as a derisive name for soccer.
  • Wowser: A killjoy or spoilsport, especially a Moral Guardian. Sometimes a derogatory term for The Teetotaler. Comes from the slogan of the Women's Christian Temperance Union: "We Only Want Social Evils Remedied". Nothing to do with Inspector Gadget's Catchphrase.
  • Yakka: Manual labour
  • Yarn: Australian type of tall tale or boastful story. The nominal verb associated with it is "spin", but it can also function as a verb itself: "to yarn with friends."
  • Yeah Nah: Essentially "Yes, I hear you, but no, I don't agree." Not used in the same sense as the American "yeah no" to mean "HA HA HA—No" — in Australia, it's essentially eclipsed plain "no" in some people's vocabulary. Heard especially often in post-match interviews with athletes. The truly gifted practitioners have added "nah yeah" (meaning "no, you would be wrong to think I disagree, yes I agree"), and from there it can be extended to "yeah nah yeah" or "nah yeah nah yeah" (which seems like it could be the answer to any question).

A few things to note about the list:

  • You may have noticed a pattern with respect to the above list: Australians tend to be too lazy to bother saying the whole word. It's obvious in quintessentially Australian terms like "Aussie" (Australian) and "Barbie" (barbecue). Any given name longer than two syllables — even if it's already technically shortened — can be shortened to a single syllable with an "-o" or "-zza" suffix (e.g. Gary becomes "Gazza", Larry becomes "Lazza", Stephen becomes "Steve-o"). This tendency has also caused the odd side effect that many Australianisms have been gender-neutral for longer than that's been an issue (e.g. firemen are called "firies", postmen are called "posties").
  • If you're not actually Australian, don't use most of these terms unless they taught you themselves. You're not expected to know the nuances, and if you try using them without knowing the nuances (or worse, while being British or American) will just make you look hopelessly uncool.
  • Slang changes so rapidly that saying many of the items on the list to anyone under the age of 35 will get you withering looks. It's even harder than it used to be, given the rise of globalisation, the Internet, and American cultural imperialism; it's easy to pick up new slang from other countries, and it's even easier to make it up yourself and have it go viral globally (like what happened to "selfie"). On the other hand, many young people seem to take a semi-ironic delight in reviving the most obnoxious slang they can find, meaning that everything old is new again.
  • Most of this slang is not useful in New Zealand. Foreigners are notorious for assuming that Aussies and Kiwis are exactly the same, but at best 50% of this list will apply in New Zealand. The rest will earn you a derisive snort. This leaves both parties in perpetual confusion as to what is and is not mutually comprehensible.
  • Many of these entries are Inherently Funny Words. This makes is much easier to coin new terms, as long as they're funny. American comedian Arj Barker demonstrated this in an experiment, when he went into five different Australian furniture stores and told anyone who asked if he needed help, "I'm just having a squidgy-didge" — to which no one questioned him. As long as you follow the trends — especially building on prior slang (e.g. the similarity to squiz, on this list) — you're likely to pass.

Other resources:

  • An episode of the Irregular Webcomic! podcast discusses more examples of Australian slang. A transcript may be found here.
  • The ABC ("Aunty") maintains a massive database of Australian slang, broken down by region. It's particularly important when talking about drinking — in some places, a glass of beer can be a schooner, in others a middy, in still others a pony. It can be helpful finding out what a "deadly treadly" is before it kills you.

Alternative Title(s): Gday Mate

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