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A beginners guide to Aussie Slang

Aussie Slang is the lingo spoken Down Under.  It is often a cryptic mix of words and phrases, so if you’re visiting Australia, here’s a few tips to help you understand the locals.

The Australian language is sure to confuse even the most ‘clued-up’ traveller!  Commonly known as strine, Aussie slang uses a mix of unusual words and rhyming phrases.  Get a head-start with our Aussie Slang mini-dictionary.

It’s likely that trying to make sense of our language will provide you with much entertainment so let us give you a few tips!

Aussies speak funny

and she said “Do you come from the land Down Under” ….

Despite the strange lingo, Australia is an English speaking country.  Proudly we have put a unique twist on the traditional English language.  The best advice I can give you is .. don’t take it too seriously!

You may find that Australians tend to speak quickly and have an unusual way of pronouncing words.

We Aussies have a quirky sense of humour and take every opportunity to have a laugh where we can often using our language to do that.  The trick is to familiarise yourself with our words and phrases before you arrive in our colourful country.  Rhyming strine can be fun.

Our language has evolved from all who have settled here

Australia is a nation of many cultures.

Many of us are direct descendants of English convicts who were sent to settle Australia from England in the late 1700s.   Many early settlers were rogues, murderers, thieves and opportunists.  I’m sure some may say ‘not a lot has changed’!

Today we are proud of our multicultural culture.  Aussies of today include the first Australians, Italians, Greek, Maltese, Chinese, Vietnamese, South African and Europeans and so many others from other countries.  It is who we are, and we love our differences!

We’re proud of our ethnicity and we are especially proud that our language has evolved to be originally Australian.  We have become one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.

[bctt tweet=”Do you know how to speak ridgy-didge genuine Aussie?” username=”aussiemob”]

Accent?  What accent?

Australian slang is rich with humour, wit and rhyme and it’s is not just about the accent.  Most Aussies will stand tall, put their hand on their heart and tell you indignantly, they don’t have an accent!

The Aussie lingo is unique

Simple things such as shortening words or adding an ‘o‘ onto the end are quite common practice and can easily confuse visitors.

As an example:  We might shorten the word aggressive to agro or refer to a journalist as a journo.  Often we might add an ‘o‘ to someone’s name such as Craig to Craigo or Damien to Damo.   All done in the name of friendship, and never with someone we don’t know well.  If your name is Michelle, and we call you Shell, think of this as a ‘term of endearment’ or acceptance. There is no rationale to it all, but it makes sense to us!

Redheaded men are often referred to as ‘Blue‘, or Bluey.  We’re not sure where this came from but it’s thought to be attributed to red-haired Irishmen who were known to be hot headed and prone to fighting.  Hence, a ‘blue’ is also a term we use to describe a ‘fight’ or ‘argument’.

Slang or commonalities used in America or England won’t always have the same meaning in Australia.  My advice is, that unless you are absolutely sure of a word or a saying, don’t be tempted to use it.  Chances are that it can mean quite the opposite and may result in total embarrassment!

Speak Aussie to me

I had never considered that Australians spoke differently and it wasn’t until I stayed with friends in Pennsylvania that I realised that I was indeed, different!

This memory still makes me smile!
Jesca, know that you’ve made a lasting impression on this Aussie!

One morning (way too early for grown-ups), their 3 year old climbed into bed beside me. She held my face in both hands and whispered loudly (as only 3 year olds do); “Speak Aussie to me”.  

Struth mate‘, who would’ve thought!

Commonly used words and colloquial phrases are referred to as strine.

Musicians, writers and poets and those with the gift of the gab!

Much of our lingo has a uniqueness that invokes a smile.  Many musicians, poets and songwriters have woven our unique and quirky sayings into songs and poems which have iconised our uniqueness, and our language.

  • The renowned ‘Men at Work’ song has used a number of Australianisms in the very popular song Land Down Under when they sang; “he just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich“.
  • Slim Dusty’s famous song ‘Pub with no beer’ evokes a sense of desperation for those who fear the pub will run out of beer!  Serious business to be sure!
  • Dorothea Mackellar’s poem “My Country” talks of of the rugged country we Australians call home; “I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains“.

Australia has always been painted a tough country, and the Aussies, even tougher!  We’re full of bravado on the outside but really we’re marshmallows on the inside.  Ask any Aussie!

Funny Australian sayings

Galah - the land down under

The movie that introduced the Australian language to the world, ‘Crocodile Dundee‘ should be given some credit. A fun movie that did great things for tourism in Australia and taught the world how to say G’day, Aussie style.

Saying G’day is not used as often as it once was and to call someone a ‘galah‘ is definitely not a compliment!

We really don’t often say things like ‘crikey‘, or ‘fair dinkum‘, or ‘stone the crows’, but we once did.  Just for reference, girls get pretty cranky if they’re called a ‘sheila‘.  Most self respecting ‘blokes‘ wouldn’t dare risk it!

[bctt tweet=”Did you know that calling someone a ‘galah’ is definitely not a compliment! Check out our post on the infamous Aussie strine.” username=”aussiemob”]

Are you struggling to understand the Aussie Lingo?

Here’s a mini-dictionary of Aussie slang to help you translate.

  1. Arvo – abbreviation of ‘afternoon’. See also: Servo (service station), avo (avocado) etc
  2. Aussie Salute – Brushing off the flies.
  3. Bail – to cancel plans.
  4. Barbie – abbreviation of ‘barbecue’.
  5. Bickie – abbreviation of ‘biscuit’.
  6. Bathers – A swimsuit; also known as Togs, Swimmers, or Cozzies.
  7. Bloody – An expression of emphasis, often used in anger.
  8. Bludger – Someone who is lazy.
  9. Bugger – A mild profanity and one of the most versatile words in Australia.
  10. Clued-up – Knowledgeable, or well-read.
  11. Choc a Block – Full up, no room for more.
  12. Chook – Chicken.
  13. Coldie – A cold beer.
  14. Dag – an entertainingly eccentric person; a character.
  15. Daks – Trousers.
  16. Deadset – Thats true, honest.
  17. Flat out like a lizard drinking – Really busy.
  18. Footy – Abbreviation of football, one of Australia’s favourite pastimes.
  19. G’day – Hello
  20. Galah – Not so bright, or a stupid person.
  21. Hard yakka – Hard work.
  22. Macca’s – McDonalds, a popular fast food outlet.
  23. Mate – A friend; used with many differing contexts.
  24. No Worries – No problem, it’s ok.
  25. Pash – to kiss passionately.
  26. Piss Off – Go away.
  27. Piss Up – A party with lots of alcohol involved.
  28. Pissed – Intoxicated, Drunk.
  29. Pissed Off – Angry.
  30. Ripper – That’s fantastic!
  31. Rooted – or Stuffed; Tired, or Broken – un-fixable.
  32. Sanga – A sandwich.
  33. Servo – A service station or garage.
  34. Shout – A round of drinks at the bar – Read more about how to buy a shout.
  35. Stoked – Happy, pleased with a particular result.
  36. Stubby – A bottle of Beer.
  37. Sunnies – Sunglasses.
  38. Thongs – Rubber footwear.  Often called ‘flip-flops’.
  39. Woop Whoop – In the ‘middle of nowhere’, somewhere remote or far away.
  40. You Beauty – or Beauty; Great news, success.

Aussies are a curious mob

A mob is a term used to describe a group ie: a mob of kangaroos,  a family group, the Owen mob, you mob etc

We Aussies are a strange bunch.  If you are dreaming heading Down Under, there are a few Australian terms that you should know to help you get through your adventure.

I can’t deny there are some very odd things that we Aussies say from time to time!

It’s clear that Aussies take every opportunity to ‘pull your leg‘ so my advice is to go with the flow, enjoy our lingo but don’t take it all too seriously!

Pin this Beginners Guide to Aussie Slang to Pinterest – you may need it later

Beginners Guide to Aussie Slang

Here’s some more information if you’d like to read more of our posts

If this post has captured your interest and you want to learn more, let me introduce you to this fascinating website … Australian Slang.  Well researched, this site has put together an extensive list of Australian slang and their interpretations.  Have fun, and let me know your favourites!

Have you come across any Aussie comments that you thought were funny and want to share?  Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to have someone give you a Vegemite sandwich?  Care to share your favourite experience with the Aussie lingo with us below ?