Australians have a colourful way with language and are notorious for abbreviating words and creating new phrases and expressions. Many of them are ingrained in Australia’s history and have become a part of the everyday language. Here are a few you may hear when you make your way Down Under.
Agro (Ag-grow): the state of being angry or aggressive.
Ambo (Am-boh): is an abbreviation of ambulance. Can also refer to an ambulance driver paramedic.
Arvo (Arh-vo): abbreviated form of ‘afternoon’.
Barbie (Bar-bee): abbreviation of ‘barbecue’, which refers to the apparatus used to cook outside. It is a popular way to get together with friends, especially in the warmer weather.
Battler (Battel-a): refers to someone who constantly works hard but always struggles to get by.
Beaut, beauty (Be-ute, be-ute-ee): is used to describe when something is very good, desirable or agreeable.
Bee's knees (Beez neez): is used to describe when something is the absolute best of its kind.
Big smoke, the: refers to the major cities of Australia, i.e. Sydney and Melbourne.
Bloke (Bl-oak): refers to an Australian male.
Blowie (Blow-y): is an abbreviation of blowfly and refers to a very large and noisy fly.
Boot: when used in reference to a car, this means the trunk of the car.
Bottle-o: liquor shop, a shop that sells alcohol.
Blue (Bl-ew): to have a fight or an argument with someone.
Buckley's, Buckley's chance (Buck-lees): to have no luck or no chance of reaching a particular outcome.
Budgie smugglers: men’s swimmers, or bathing costume. Usually tight and revealing.
BYO (Be-Why-Oh): stands for Bring Your Own. It usually refers to being able to bring your own alcohol to a restaurant, but can also be used to indicate that you are required to bring your own in any situation – for example, bring your own meat to a barbie.
Chook (Choo-k): refers to a chicken.
Chrissie (Chris-see): is an abbreviation for Christmas.
Cods wallop! (kods woll-op): an exclamation that signifies that one does not believe what has just been said.
Cozzie (Cos-zee): a swimming costume or bathing suit.
Cuppa (Cup-pa): this is an abbreviation for ‘a cup of tea or coffee’.
Dag: bits of manure that stick to the wool around a sheep’s bottom. It is used as a term of endearment to describe someone who is generally nerdy, goofy and not trendy.
Daks: man’s trousers or shorts.
Dingbat: used to describe a silly, foolish or childish person.
Dog’s breakfast: is used to describe when something is a mess, or a complete failure.
Duffer (Duff-a): is used to describe someone who is silly.
Dunny (Dun-nee): refers to a toilet or lavatory.
Elbow grease: used to describe exerting effort or putting in a lot of energy to get something done.
Esky (Ess-kee): a portable container that is used to carry and keep food and drink cool. It is short for its proper name Eskimo box.
Exy (Ex-see): an abbreviation of expensive.
Footy (Foot-tee): is an abbreviation of ‘football’ or rugby.
G’day (Gidday): a shortened form of ‘good day’, this is a greeting that typically means ‘hello’. It is used informally.
Grouse (G-rouse): is used to indicate that something is very good or excellent.
Jiffy (Jiff-ee): indicating a very short amount of time.
Kafuffle (Ka-fuffel) or kerfuffle: confusion or commotion.
Larrikin (Larry-kin): is someone who is always having fun, telling jokes and playing pranks.
Mate (M-ait): a mate is another word for ‘friend’. However in Australia, strangers can address each other as mate.
Porky (Poor-kee): is an abbreviation of ‘pork pie’. It is another word for a lie or an untruth.
Rellie or relo (Rell-ee, rell-oh): an abbreviation for relative, meaning someone who is blood related or considered a part of the family.
Shout (Sh-out): to buy a round of drinks at the pub for all the people in your group. Each person will take turns in ‘shouting’ the others.
Sickie (Sik-ee): taking a day off work, by feigning sickness. Can also be taken for genuine reasons.
Smoko (Smo-ko): refers to a 5–10 minute break, traditionally taken to smoke a cigarette. Can also be used to refer to a tea break.
Snag: a sausage.
Spewin' (Spu-win): very angry or fuming over something.
Strewth! (Stru-th): is an exclamation, can be used as a mild oath to express surprise, shock or to place emphasis.
Squizz (Skwizz): to have a look.
Swag: bedding that rolls up and is popular for camping.
Ta (tah): an informal way of saying thank you.
Thongs: rubber sandals.
Walkabout (Walk-about): to travel around the Outback for an indefinite amount of time. Can also be used to describe something as lost or gone.
Yakka (yak-ka): hard, manual labour.
She’ll be apples, she’ll be right: everything will be okay, or everything will work itself out in the end.
Have a burl, have a crack, have a go: to try something that appears difficult or foreign.
Mad as a cut snake: very angry.
Kangaroos loose in the top paddock: coming across as crazy or lacking intelligence.
Mate's rate, mate's discount: a discount on a product or a service reserved for a ‘friend’.
Happy as a pig in mud: To be very happy.
Call it a day: to stop working and finish up for the day.
Call it quits: to finish something on a permanent basis, regardless of whether it is finished or not.
Chew the fat: to have a long and enjoyable conversation with someone.
Chuck a U ey: to make a U-turn, usually in a car.
Chuck a wobbly, chuck a spaz: to throw a fit or a temper, an act of anger.
I'm easy: not having a preference of options, not fussed or worried.
In the bag: to be sure that the outcome will be in your favour.