Talk like an Aussie: 55 of Australia’s Must-Know Slang
We spend a lot of time talking about the various languages, communities, and cultures that make up Australia’s unique fabric. One of the things that is most unique to Australia is its slang, the day-to-day expressions, and phrases that most Australians don’t even notice they use because it's so entrenched in their vernacular.
There’s an abbreviation for most words and names that would be incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t spent much time in Australia or around Australians. As a Canadian in Australia, I thought I’d have an easier time since I’m from an English-speaking country, but I still feel like I need a localised Australian English dictionary to understand a conversation. There's a slew of new words I've had to learn to keep up with my Australian friends.
This one is for all the visitors coming to Australia who want to better understand Australian expressions or for the Aussies that don’t even realise the words they’re using are Aussie slang words that are indecipherable to others.
Let’s dive into the obvious and not-so-obvious Australian slang words and expressions:
Avo - a typical Aussie abbreviation usually utilises the first half of the word. We’ll be seeing many more of these. “Avo” is short for Avocado.
Barbie - short for Barbecue. You might hear the Australian expression, “throw another shrimp on the Barbie,” regularly in the summer season.
Bathers - the colloquial Australian term for swimsuits!
Bloody Oath - a dramatic interpretation of “Yes!” “100%” or “Definitely”. It’s an affirmative response to almost anything.
Bludger - a derogatory word used to refer to a lazy person. “Why do you keep skipping class? You’re such a bludger”.
Bogan - the Australian term for someone who is considered unsophisticated or unrefined. The expression is commonly associated by Aussies with someone of low socio-economic status.
Booze Bus - not the sort of bus you have a beer on. Quite the opposite. It’s a police vehicle used to catch drunk drivers.
Bottle-o - otherwise known as a bottle shop or liquor store. A place where Aussies buy their alcohol.
Brolly - short for an umbrella.
Budgie Smugglers - otherwise known as Speedos, which is also the name of the brand.
Cab Sav - I think the rest of the world should adopt this Australian slang term for the well-known wine, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Choc-a-bloc (or Chock-a-block) - if a place is chock-a-block, it is full of either people or things, like cars in a parking lot.
Chook - take the word chicken and make it cute. Enter Chook. And yes, we are referring to the animal here.
Cold One / Coldie – “Cold One” is used in other countries, so you might know what this is referring to. A “coldie” is the lesser-known of the two phrases. I’m sure you might gather by now that we’re referring to; an alcoholic beverage otherwise known as a beer.
Coppers - the Australian expression for Policemen.
Crook - mirroring the expression “bent out of shape”, crook is actually a term used to express an old British English verb for “bend” or “hook” that Aussies when they’re feeling unwell or angry. It can also be used as the word "criminal" (eg. that person is a crook).
Dag – typically refers to someone who’s a bit of a nerd or geek.
Defo – definitely!
Devo – and devastated! Are you noticing the pattern here?
Dunny - otherwise known as the Toilet in other parts of the world.
Durry- a slang word for “cigarette”.
Esky - Esky is actually a brand of portable coolers. The term has now been adopted by Australian culture to refer to all coolers.
Facey – none other than Facebook!
Fair Dinkum – a typical Australian English expression reminiscent of the term “honestly” in the English language. It is an affirmation or response to good news. Fair dinkum can be used in a variety of contexts, such as to say that someone is genuine or to ask if one is telling the truth. It is one of the most commonly used Australian slang phrases.
Far out – ‘Really?!’ – the term can be used with a positive or negative sentiment.
Flat out - usually means you’re extremely busy. “I’m flat out at work today”.
Frothy – another word for a cold one, or a Beer.
Good day or G’day – the Australian Hello
Good on ya - this is an Aussie slang phrase for “good work”, or a job “well done”. “Good on ya, mate!”
Hard yakka – Aussies use the term hard yakka to refer to “Hard work”.
Heaps - a phrase to indicate an extreme, similar to “really,” or “very.” ”That’s heaps good.”
Hungry Jacks - not exactly an Aussie slang phrase, but rather, the Australian name for “Burger King.”
Larrikin - someone who is mischievous but has a good heart and is well-liked. Often a jokester or someone who likes to play pranks.
Lippy- I believe this term is used more commonly across the world as it’s made its way to the English dictionary. The informal expression for lipstick.
Lollies – this term typically refers to lollipops in British English, but in Australia, lollies refers to all kinds of sweets and candies, not just lollipops.
Maccas – you know Aussies love their slang when the giant fast food chain McDonald’s starts to refer to itself as “Maccas” in Australia
Milk bar - The local general store, deli, or corner shop. No, they don’t just sell milk.
Mozzie - short for a mosquito. You’ll see a lot of these in Australia during the summer.
Rapt - Aussies use this word to mean happy!
Reckon - A short version of “Do you reckon?”, an Australian slang equivalent for “Do you think?”.
Rego - short for Registration. It usually refers to a car’s registration.
Servo – the abbreviated word for a “service station”, otherwise known as a petrol station or gas station.
Sheila – refers to a woman. Sheila initially was how Aussies would refer to Irish women, but eventually, the name stuck as slang for women in general.
Sickie – a sick day off work. “Pulling a sickie” would be to take a day off work when you aren’t actually sick.
Straya – Australia. Need I say more…
Stuffed – to be tired or physically exhausted.
Sunnies – short for sunglasses.
Thingo - a thing, a thingy, a thingamajig. What you call something when you don’t know what it is.
Thongs - sandals, flip-flops. Don’t be surprised if your Australian friend asks you to wear thongs to the beach. They are most likely asking you to bring your flip-flops so you don’t burn your feet on the hot Australian sand.
Tradie - short for “tradesman”, a skilled manual worker specialised in a particular craft or trade (electrician, carpenter, plumber, etc.).
Truckie - you guessed it: A truck driver!
True blue - used to refer to a real Australian. “You’re a true blue.”
Uey - otherwise known as a U-turn. “Chuck a uey” is typically said when driving to make a U-turn.
Woop-Woop - used to refer to a place in the middle of “nowhere”. “He lives out woop woop.”
Yous - the plural form of you, used to refer to a group of people. “What are yous up to today?”
Australian slang is deeply embedded in the country's culture and is unique to the region. Many words and phrases are often used on a daily basis by Australians and are so ingrained in their speech that they may not even realize they're using slang.
For first-time visitors to Australia, even if they do come from English-speaking countries, it can be challenging to understand these expressions. While Aussies rarely use a full word and instead prefer to use abbreviated words, the structure of most Australian slang words is the same and can be easy to figure out over time.
Next time you're around your Australian friend, impress them by throwing out one of the unconventional words from this list. Just make sure you're using these Australian slang terms in an appropriate situation so as not to offend anyone.