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Aussie slang

Australian thongs
© Leetorrens |

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.

Common words

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.

(Cos-zee): a swimming costume or bathing suit.

(Cup-pa): this is an abbreviation for ‘a cup of tea or coffee’.

: 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.

: man’s trousers or shorts.

: 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.

(Duff-a): is used to describe someone who is silly.

(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.

(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.

(Ex-see): an abbreviation of expensive.

(Foot-tee): is an abbreviation of ‘football’ or rugby.

(Gidday): a shortened form of ‘good day’, this is a greeting that typically means ‘hello’. It is used informally.

: alcohol.

(G-rouse): is used to indicate that something is very good or excellent.

(Jiff-ee): indicating a very short amount of time.

(Ka-fuffel) or kerfuffle: confusion or commotion.

(Larry-kin): is someone who is always having fun, telling jokes and playing pranks.

(M-ait): a mate is another word for ‘friend’. However in Australia, strangers can address each other as mate.

(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.

(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.

(Sik-ee): taking a day off work, by feigning sickness. Can also be taken for genuine reasons.

(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.

: a sausage.

(Spu-win): very angry or fuming over something.

(Stru-th): is an exclamation, can be used as a mild oath to express surprise, shock or to place emphasis.

(Skwizz): to have a look.

: bedding that rolls up and is popular for camping.

(tah): an informal way of saying thank you.

: rubber sandals.

(Walk-about): to travel around the Outback for an indefinite amount of time. Can also be used to describe something as lost or gone.

(yak-ka): hard, manual labour.

Common phrases

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.