One of the most distinguishable traits among Australians is their thick accent. Here’s the meaning of some of the more common Australian slang words, terms, and phrases.
Did You Know?
Australian English has many slang words in common with British English. The two also share many grammatical rules, such as maintaining the ‘u’ in words such as color and odor.
The Land Down Under is remarkable for many things, having been colonized by European settlers but having developed at a considerable distance from mainland European culture. One of the most notorious among those is the Aussie accent and the unique Aussie dictionary.
Here’s a primer on the slang words and phrases unique to Australia.
Common Australian Slang Words
Australian English contains variably included similarities to both British as well as American English; Australian slang has many more similarities to the former than the latter. The popular forms of slang words and phrases in Australia are words ending with ‘-o’ or ‘-ie’.
Ace: Just like in British slang, ‘ace’ is a compliment given to praise some achievement.
Aerial Pingpong: Australian Rules Football
Aggro: Another word borrowed from good old Blighty, ‘aggro’ stands for aggression of any kind―human as well as natural.
Amber fluid: No, not the one that’s sometimes amber. This one means beer―the one that’s always amber!
Ankle biter: I thought this was some kind of snake, but incredibly, this means ‘children’!
Arvo: Yet another ‘-o’ word, ‘arvo’ means ‘afternoon’.
(Doing the) Aussie salute: Brushing away flies by waving hands.
Avo: Stands for avocado; considering that ‘avocado’ also ends with an ‘o’, we’ll give the Aussies a free pass on this one.
Bail (someone) up: To corner someone. This is used in the physical sense, and not in the sense of tactical ‘cornering’.
Banana bender: Someone from Queensland
Banger: I assure you it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Banger actually means ‘sausage’. So this one certainly tastes good!
Barbie/Barby: Short for ‘barbecue grill’. The activity of hosting a barbecue is still called a barbecue, but the instrument itself is called ‘barbie’.
(To) Barrack (something) on: If you barrack your local sports team, you cheer them on.
Bathers: In Australia, this means what bathers in other countries would be wearing―the bathing suits.
Big smoke: Refers to a large city.
Bikie: What the rest of the world would call ‘biker’. Except, bikies usually ride Harley.
(To) Big-note oneself: To brag about yourself.
Bikkie: Short for ‘biscuit’, and can also refer to a cookie.
Billy: A teapot or kettle used to boil water.
Bizzo: Short form of ‘business’.
Bloody: This is used in the same sense as the Brits do―as a generic intensifier.
- Bloody oath: This is used to add intensity to an opinion or response. For instance, “Bloody oath Aussies can drink!”.
Blow in: Someone who is a blow in has turned up somewhere, usually at a social occasion, without being invited.
Blue: A fight or argument.
(To Make a) Blue: Means the same as making a ‘boo-boo’, in other words, making a silly mistake.
Bludger: Not the kind that try to knock people off flying broomsticks. These bludgers are just lazy and possibly parasitic bums.
Boardies: Short for ‘board shorts’, which are worn by surfers.
Bodgy: Not of reliable quality. This word is related to the British slang words ‘bodge’ and ‘bodgy’.
Bog in: Carrying on the British tradition of describing your food with disgusting words (who else calls their food ‘grub’?), this phrase stands for starting a meal. Considering the American, and particularly the British, meaning of this word, some sensitive tourists may lose their appetite if told to bog in.
Boil-over: A sporting upset
Bottle-o: Short for ‘bottle shop’. Don’t ask me why replacing a monosyllabic word with a monosyllabic letter was necessary!
Booze bus: Vehicles used by law enforcement officials to catch drunk drivers.
Bottler: If something is bottler, it is excellent.
(His/Her Blood’s Worth) Bottling: Used to convey that the person in question is of splendid character. Surely, there was a way of telling this without conjuring up images of Dracula!
(He/She Doesn’t Know Christmas From) Bourke street: Used to indicate that the person in question is a bit slow in the head.
(Not My) Bowl of rice: Used in the same way as ‘not my cup of tea’.
Brekkie: Short for breakfast. This can also be spelled ‘brekky’.
Brisvegas/Brizzie: Informal name of the city of Brisbane.
Brickie: A bricklayer
Buck’s night: Aussie equivalent of ‘bachelor party’ or ‘stag party’.
Budgy/Budgie smuggler: Slang for men’s Speedo bathing shorts. Rather less imaginatively, they are also called ‘ballhuggers’.
(Give it a) Burl: Give it a shot
Bush: The Outback, but can refer to any area that is not a city.
- A bushie is someone who lives in the bush.
Cactus: Dead, nonfunctional
Captain Cook: Rhyming slang for the noun ‘look’. This should not be used as a verb; you’ll just Captain Cook stupid― see what I mean?
(To) Cark it: To die in the case of organisms, or to cease functioning in the case of mechanical objects
(As Busy as a) Cat burying shit: Very busy
- Flat out like a lizard drinking also means the same thing
(As Mean as) Cat’s piss: Extremely miserly. What do Australians have against cats?
Chewie: Chewing gum
Cleanskin: This can refer to either unmarked bottles of wine, which are bought in bulk by companies to be given out as gifts bearing their own logos, or to cattle that have not been branded, earmarked, and castrated.
Click: Used to informally describe one kilometer
Clucky: Feeling broody, overwhelmed by maternal emotions. Don’t ask me why Australians would make a connection between their women and their hens!
Cockie: This can either mean a farmer, a cockatoo, or a cockroach.
(To) Come a gutser: To make a mistake
Conchy: If someone is acting conchy, they are being exceedingly conscientious and are refusing to come out of their shell.
(Not Within) a Cooee:Far off, not at all close. This is usually used figuratively and not to describe geographical distance.
(Within) a Cooee: Close or nearby. Unlike the above, this can be used both literally as well as figuratively. Both these expressions are based on the traditional call of Australians―’Cooee’.
Cozzie: A costume, or more accurately a swimming costume.
(To) Crank on to (Someone): To flirt with someone, to be romantically interested in someone.
Cut lunch: Sandwiches
Mad Like a) Cut snake: Very mad. This is one Aussie slang phrase that makes perfect sense and one we completely admire!
Dag: A self-confessedly silly, self-deprecatingly funny person. In other words, just remember Chandler Bing.
- Trackie daks are―you guessed it, no prizes―track pants.
Date: Literally, this means your nether regions.
Dead horse: Rhyming slang for tomato (which is toe-mah-toe, incidentally) sauce.
Dero: Someone whom the Yanks would call ‘tramp’, and the Brits would call ‘bum’.
Dill: An idiot
- Drongo also means the same thing
Dinkum/Fair dinkum: Genuine, the real deal
Dipstick: In some ways, a person who is not ‘fair dinkum’; more generically, refers to losers.
- Dropkick also means the same thing
Dobber: A tattle-tale. This can also be used in more serious contexts, such as spying or going undercover.
Docket: A receipt, bill, or invoice
Doco: A documentary
Dog: An unattractive woman.
Dog’s breakfast: A mess
Dog’s eye: Rhyming slang for ‘meat pie’. So if someone asks you if you want a dog’s eye with dead horse for lunch, don’t hesitate!
(To) Drink with the flies: To drink alone
Dunny: An outdoor toilet
Durry: Refers to tobacco, or cigarettes in particular.
Dux/To dux: Someone who is top of their class, or the action of topping the class (duxing).
Fag: Aussies follow the British in their connotation of ‘fag’― it means cigarettes, not homosexuals.
Fairy floss: Candy floss or cotton candy
Feral: Someone living like a wild animal, hippie.
Flake: Shark flesh
(To Give Somebody the) Flick: To get rid of someone. This is usually not used in the Mafia sense of ‘getting rid’ of someone.
Flick (something) on: To sell something for a relatively small profit a short while after buying it.
(To) Fossick: To look for something. This can be used in a general, day-to-day way as well in the context of prospectors or explorers.
- A fossicker is someone who fossicks. This is generally used in the latter sense, i.e., that of prospectors for gold et al.
(As cross as a) Frog in a sack: Very angry, extremely cross
Fruit loop: Fool, idiot
Full: Completely drunk
Furphy: A rumor originating from an unreliable source
Gaffa (GAFA): Acronym for the wide, barren expanse of the Australian Outback―the Great Australian F*** All!
Galah: An idiot, someone acting in a silly manner. This word comes from the name of a bird notorious for its silly antics and noise.
Garbo: Sorry Garbo fans, Australians are about to ruin your love for the yesteryear actress. ‘Garbo’ in Australia is actually the short form of ‘garbage collector’.
- Garbologist also means the same thing
(To) Give a gobful: To scold someone or to tell someone off. This is usually used in the sense that scolding the person was the correct thing to do.
Good oil: A good idea, useful or helpful information
(As Full as a) Goog: Drunk
(To) Go troppo: To lose touch with civilization, especially after spending some time in the Tropics
Grog: Liquor, usually particularly beer
Grommet: Someone who is new to surfing
(To Have/To Get a) Gutful of piss: Very drunk
Handle: A beer glass with a handle. In case anyone’s confused, the handle on a handle is also called a handle!
Hard yakka: Hard work
(To Do the) Harold Holt: To bolt, to flee
Hen’s night: The female equivalent of buck’s night
Holy dooley: An exclamation of surprise similar to ‘my goodness’
Hooroo: Goodbye. This could be related to the British ‘cheerio’ or ‘tara’, which are pronounced more like ‘churar’.
Hotel: In Australia, basic pubs are sometimes called ‘hotels’.
Hottie: A hot water bottle
Ice pole: A popsicle
- Ice block also means the same thing
Journo: A journalist. To be fair, this term has now spread to many other countries and is not exclusive to Australia.
Jug: No, not those, perv! A jug in Australia is an electric kettle.
Jumbuck: A sheep
Kangaroos loose in the top paddock: If someone has kangaroos loose in the top paddock, the person is a bit foolish.
Kero: Yay, we managed to take one whole syllable off ‘kerosene’!
(To) Knock: To criticize
Knock back/To knock back: Slang for a refusal, and the act of refusing, respectively
Knocker: Once again, don’t let your mind wander. ‘Knocker’ simply means someone who criticizes, in relation to the aforementioned ‘knock’.
Lair: A man dressed in a vulgar manner. This is similar to what the British would call ‘ponce’.
- (To) Lair up is to dress up like a lair
Larrikin: A carefree, lighthearted person, a harmless prankster
(To) Lob/ Lob in: To drop by for a casual meeting
Lollies: Lollypops, or candies in general
London to a brick: If something is London to a brick, it a certainty that it will happen.
The Lucky country: Australia itself, of course!
Maccas: Slang for the popular burger joint McDonald’s
(As Fit as a) Mallee bull: In fine form, very strong and fit
Manchester: Bed sheets and other household linen
Matey: A popular and stereotypically Australian way of addressing a friend
Mate’s rates/Mate’s discount: Similar to a ‘friends and family’ discount
Milk bar: A small street shop that sells takeaway food
Muddy: Mud crab; despite the name, it is a delicacy.
Mug: A slightly insulting word that you can call your friends jocularly
Mystery bag: A sausage
Nasho: The form of compulsory military service in Australia, called National Service
Never Never: The Outback; this is similar in usage to GAFA.
No drama/No worries: No problem
No-hoper: Someone who has, duh, no hopes of being successful
Not the full quid: If someone is not the full quid, they have kangaroos loose in the top paddock.
Noughts and crosses: Tic-tac-toe
(As Dry as a) Nun’s nasty: Very dry; no need to elaborate on the origin of this phrase!
Nut out: Work out, decide, resolve
Ocker: A person with little social skill or sophistication
Offsider: An assistant or helper
Off (One’s) head: High on drugs
Pash/To Pash on: A long, passionate kiss and the action of kissing someone passionately, respectively
Perve/To Perve: A perve is someone who stares at the opposite sex like a perv, and the verb describes what perves do
Piece of piss: Same as ‘piece of cake’, but needlessly gross
Pig’s arse: An exclamation to declare your disagreement with a stated view
(To Get the) Pink slip: To get fired
Piss: Beer; why, Aussies, why?
Pokie:A digital poker machine or a slots machine
Pom/Pohm/Pommy/Pommie: An Englishman. This is usually followed by ‘bastard’, which is a term of endearment in Australia.
Pommy shower: Using a deodorant to cover up body odor instead of taking a bath
(As Dry as a) Pommy’s towel: Very dry, unused; this and the previous entry are based on the myth that Brits are loath to take a bath and only shower once a month.
Poo man: This is what some Aussie plumbers call themselves!
Poo tickets: Toilet paper; in a way, this does make a certain amount of sense!
Porky: Similar to the British ‘porkies’, this is rhyming slang for a lie. Porky was originally ‘pork pies’, which rhymes with ‘lies’.
Pot: Unlike in the U.S., an Australian ‘pot’ is the term for a 285 ml beer glass, and is thus perfectly legal and moral to consume.
Prezzy: A gift or a present
Rack/To Rack: Rack refers to cocaine, and the verb refers to consuming it
Rack off: A less rude form of f*** off
Rage/To Rage on: A rage is a party, and to rage on means to enjoy a party
Ratbag: This is a mild insult; tread carefully if you don’t know the people around you.
(To Come the) Raw prawn: To talk nonsense that everyone hates
Rego: Registration; this is usually used in the context of vehicle registration
Ridgy-didge: Original, genuine, fair dinkum
Rip-snorter: Amazing, hugely enjoyable
- Ripper also means the same thing
Road train: A large truck with many trailers
Roadie: Takeaway beer
Rollie: A hand-rolled cigarette
Root: A handy and fairly polite synonym for ‘f***’, as both a noun and a verb. Just make sure you don’t tell someone that you’re rooting for them!
- A root rat is a sex-crazed person who is always looking for more. A gender-neutral synonym of ‘nymphomaniac’, if you will.
Ropeable: Extremely angry
Rort: Used as a verb and a noun to describe scandals and embezzlement involving politicians
(To) Rug up: To put on additional layers of insulation to keep yourself warm
Salvo: Salvation Army
Sandgroper: Someone from Western Australia
Sanger: A sandwich
Scratchy: A lottery ticket that has to be scratched
Screamer: Someone who loves to party
- A two pot screamer is someone who has a low tolerance to alcohol and gets drunk on very little of it.
Seppo: An American
Servo: A service station or petrol pump
(Stands Out Like a) Shag on a rock: Very conspicuous, obvious
Shark biscuit: A rather scarier way of referring to a ‘grommet’
Sheepshagger: A New Zealander
Sheila: A woman
Shit house: As a noun, this describes an actual toilet. As an adjective, it can be used to describe anything that is not of agreeable quality.
(To) Shoot through: To Leave
(Grinning Like a) Shot fox: Very happy or smug
Shout: If it’s someone’s shout, it means that it’s the turn of that person to do the activity. This is usually used to determine who pays for the next round of booze.
Show Pony: A less rude way of calling someone a poser or a ‘lair’
Sickie: A day taken off work because you are sick
- Chucking a sickie is taking a day off as a sick leave when you are not sick
(To) Skite: To boast or brag, to show off
Skull/Skol: The act of drinking a glass of beer in one go
Smoko: A smoking break
Snag: A sausage
Snag bag: A sausage roll
Sook: A tame, mild-mannered, harmless animal or person
Sparky: An electrician
Spewing: Very angry
Spruiker: A man who stands outside joints to persuade people to check it out
Spunk: Australians mean by ‘spunk’ what the Brits mean by ‘cracking’―an attractive person of either sex.
(To Take a) Squizz: To take a look
Stickybeak: A rather accurately phrased term for someone who’s being very nosy
Stoked: Very pleased
Stonkered: If you are stonkered, you are caught in a fix. You may have been beaten by someone, you may have been out-thought by some rival, or you may just be perplexed and at your wit’s end―’stonkered’ is the term to use.
Strewth: A mild swear word often used as an exclamation
Strine: The archetypically broad Aussie accent; the term is derived from what the word ‘Australian’ sounds like when spoken in this accent.
Stubby: A 375 ml beer bottle common in Australia
Stubby holder: As should be obvious, a stubby holder is a holder for the aforementioned ‘stubby’. This holder is often insulated, so as to keep the beer cold.
Sunbaking: A less attractively named and less inviting form of ‘sunbathing’
Surfies: Passionate, dedicated surfers
Suss: A suspicious person
- To suss is to investigate something
Swag: No, not the insufferable kind paraded by today’s youth. This one refers to a rolled up ball of bedding and other related materials.
- A swagman is someone who carries around their own swag. Usually this refers to a tramp or hobo, who carries his bedding with him in a messy bundle wherever he goes.
- Swaggie is short for ‘swagman’.
Sweet as: Used to describe something very enjoyable, the point being that the activity in question was so ‘sweet’ that a simile is hard to find.
Tall poppy: Someone who has succeeded, who has made the most of his life
- Tall poppy syndrome is the annoying habit of criticizing people who are successful, often unfairly and out of spite or jealousy.
Tallie: A 750 ml bottle of beer; contrast with ‘stubbie’.
Taswegian: Derived from ‘Glaswegian’, this term refers to people from Tasmania. But it is a derogatory term, and most will get offended if you call them this.
Technicolor yawn: A disgustingly appropriate term for vomit
Thingo: What Americans and Brits mean by ‘thingummybob’; in this case, we are certainly behind the Australian abbreviation, since most things that get called ‘thingummybobs’ actually have shorter names than ‘thingummybob’!
Thongs: In Australia they wear their thongs on their feet. They are not crazy, it’s just because thongs refer to backless sandals in Australia. Specifically, cheap, low-quality sandals are called thongs.
Tickets (To Have on Oneself): To have a bloated opinion about oneself
Tin lids: Kids
Tinny: This can either mean a can of beer or a small boat made of aluminum.
Tinny/Tin-arsed: This refers to a person who is perennially lucky
Too right: Exclamation to show your approval to an idea
Top end: The far northern region of Australia
Trackies: Track suit; this is also part of the term ‘trackie daks’, which means track pants.
Tradie: A tradesman/woman
True blue: Patriotic
Tucker: Food in a generic way, used to refer to ‘some food’
Tucker bag: As can be easily fathomed, this means a food bag. It can also be written with a hyphen.
Turps: Refers to turpentine or to an alcoholic beverage
- To hit the Turps means going on a drinking binge
Ugg boots: Sheepskin boots worn by surfers once out of the water and by air force pilots to keep themselves warm. The name for the ugly boots comes from the word ‘ugh’―no kidding!
(To be) Up oneself: To have a really high opinion about oneself, usually undeserved. This phrase is quite similar to having ‘tickets on oneself’.
(To get) Up somebody: To lay into someone, to admonish someone strictly
Useful as an ashtray on a motorbike: Used to rebuke someone who is being unhelpful or is incompetent
- Useful as tits on a bull conveys the same sentiment with a bit more vulgarity
Ute: pickup truck
Vee dub: Short for VW, the commonly used initials of Volkswagen
(To) Veg out: To relax lazily like a vegetable, usually eating and watching TV
Waggin’ school Remaining absent from (usually) school without permission, playing truant
(Something’s gone) Walkabout: Describes something that can’t be found despite the best efforts. This term comes from the ‘walkabout’, an Aboriginal practice of strolling in the Australian Outback for a very long of time.
Walk of shame: Having to wear the same flamboyant party clothes in public the morning after a big party
Whacker: Means what Americans mean by ‘jerk’―a person who you don’t like very much, whose company you don’t enjoy, and who has a similar reputation among people other than you as well.
White pointers: Topless sunbathers, common on Australia’s beaches. As can be guessed from the term, it is usually used to refer to female sunbathers.
(To) Whiteant: To criticize something because you don’t want someone to buy. This can be used in informal contexts, such as someone persuading a friend to not buy something, or in more serious contexts, such as a salesman of a particular company badmouthing another company’s products because he wants to increase his sales.
Wobbly: Suspiciously or unpleasantly excited behavior
(To get the) Wobbly boot on: To get drunk
Wog: This can either refer to an unspecified feeling of being under the weather, or a person from a region around the Mediterranean. In the former sense, it is synonymous with the British ‘lurgy’, and it is much less rude in the latter sense than how offensive the term is considered elsewhere.
Woolies: Woolen clothes; can also refer to the store Woolworth’s
Woop woop: Used to name any inconsequential and even fictitious town
Wowser: Someone who is boringly upright and true to the rules
Yabber: Meaningless but continuous talk; this can be used as both a verb and a noun, and is synonymous with ‘jabber’.
Yakka: Though most often used in the phrase ‘hard yakka’, the word ‘yakka’ can also be used on its own to describe any kind of work.
Yewy: A U-turn, the written form of ‘U-ey’
Zack: 5 cents; this is generally used in the context of referring to things that are worthless (for example, this radio is not worth zack)
These were some common slang expressions spoken in the Oz. Some phrases have not been given, since they are shared with the British slang lexicon and are common in Old Blight as well.
Australian English has developed on its own for a long while. It usually follows the same grammatical rules as British English, but uses many words from the American form. Australians have, as you can see, also invented many words on their own.
If you have Australian relatives or particularly an Australian spouse, surprise them by using some of these phrases. More importantly, if you are visiting Australia, these words and phrases will come in handy for a better journey. You will be able to easily comprehend most of what the natives say to you, and you will be able to move your conversations along much faster if you get stuck at an American phrase that an Aussie can’t understand.