The Wanderlost & Found Guide to Speaking Australian

Australians have their own unique brand of English that sometimes (okay, lots of times) even other native English speakers struggle to understand. It can be difficult to comprehend words being spoken through a foreign accent, but when you consider an Australians penchant to abbreviate practically every word and/or phrase imaginable, their love of adding completely random endings to other words, the odd totally made-up word here and there, and of course the extra ‘i’ in alumin(i)um and things can get out of hand pretty quickly. This can all add up to some pretty entertaining listening if you happen to be caught in the middle of a bunch of “Aussies” having a “convo,” and before long you’ll probably find yourself joining in the fun as well.

If you want to start speaking like a local, throw in a few of the words and phrases below. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start. And if all else fails, just remember, abbreviate the word then add a vowel sound to the ending. If you follow that one simple rule, 99% of the time you’ll sound like you fit right in. hijosh.com does a pretty good video demonstrating this:


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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Aggro: aggressive
Ambo: ambulance, or ambulance driver
Ankle Biter: small child
Apples: it’ll be alright
Arvo: afternoon
Aussie: Australian
Avo: avocado (not to be confused with Arvo, which honestly, when spoken aloud sounds pretty much exactly the same)

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B

Banger: sausage
Barbie: barbeque
Barrack: to cheer for a sports team, ie: “Which footy team do you barrack for?”
Bathers: swimsuit
Bench: counter/countertop, especially in a kitchen; this one really threw me off
Bikkie: biscuit
Bikey: someone who rides a motorcycle but often refers to someone in a biker gang
Blotto: drunk
Boardies: boardshorts
Bottle-o: short for bottle shop, the Aussie term for liquor store
Bowls: lawn bowling club, it’s a really big thing in Australia for some reason
Brekky: breakfast
Brolly: umbrella
Bundy: Bundaberg rum, a rum from Queensland

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C

Capsicum: red/green/yellow peppers
Chemist: pharmacist
Chippy: carpenter
Chrissy: Christmas
“Chuck a sickie”: call in sick for work
Convo: conversation
Corker: excellent
Cunt: not really a derogatory term in Australia, it’s mostly used to refer to your friends and even family members.
Cup Day: everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, stops what they’re doing to watch the Melbourne Cup in November. Seriously, I tried to go to the bathroom 10 minutes before race time and was basically held hostage and told it was going to have to wait until after the race was over, and I wasn’t even in Australia at the time!
Cuppa: cup of coffee or tea

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D

Daks: pants/trousers; trackie daks = track pants
Defo: definitely
Digger: soldier
Dog’s breakfast: mess
Dunny: outdoor toilet

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E

EFTPOS: stands for Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale; Interac or direct debit
Esky: insulated cooler

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F

Fanny: vagina. Whatever you do, never, ever call a bum pack a “fanny pack”
Far out: an exclamation that can mean a few things depending on the context, could be wow! woah! cool! are you kidding?!, unbelievable!
Flake: shark meat, usually sold in fish ‘n chip shops
Flat out: busy
Footy: Aussie rules football, the Australian Football League
Front Bar: generally partitioned off from the rest of the establishment, this is the more “blue collar” area of a pub, usually where the Pokies (gambling machines) are and horse betting takes place

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G

Gas: propane
Goon: cheap, boxed wine
“Got tickets on yourself”: you think very highly of yourself
Grouse: great, terrific, very good (specific to Victoria)

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H

Haitch: not an actual word, but this is how Aussies pronounce the letter “h”
“Have a chat”: talk with someone
Heaps: lots
Hens party: bachelorette party
Hungry Jacks: for some reason Burger King is called Hungry Jacks in Australia. No idea why, the menu and even the logo are all the same as North American Burger King.

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J

Jelly: Jell-o
Journo: journalist
Jumper: pull-over sweater or hoodie

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K

Kindie: kindergarten
“Knee high to a grasshopper”: someone short, usually in reference to a child
Knackered: exhausted, tired

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L

Legend: someone who’s worthy of respect for any reason
Lippy: lipstick
Lollies: candies
Longneck: 750 mL bottle of beer

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M

Macca’s: McDonald’s, also called Macker’s in Australia
Maths: math, obviously, but the extra “s” at the end just sounds so weird to me
Mate: friend, buddy; but also used to refer to strangers, soooo basically anyone
Milk Bar: local shop selling convenience and take away food
Mozzie: mosquito

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N

Nappies: diapers
“Nah yeah”: yes, sure
“No worries” or “No dramas”: no problem, don’t worry about it
Nuddy: naked

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O

Op Shop: opportunity shop, second hand store
Outback: remote countryside

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P

Pacer: mechanical pencil
Pash: long, passionate kiss
Petrol: gasoline for your vehicle
Pokies: VLTs, video lottery machines
Poo man: plumber
Postie: postman
Power point: electrical outlet
Prawn: shrimp in North America
Prezzy: present
Pushie: pedal bike

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R

Reckon: think, figure
Rego: vehicle registration
Relo: relative
Roadie: a beer you buy to take with you
“Rock up”: show up, arrive
Rockmelon: cantalope
Roo: kangaroo
Root: have sex. Don’t ever say you’re rooting for someone, say instead, you’re cheering for them.

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S

Salvos: Salvation Army
Schoolie: recently graduated high school kid
Schoolies: the week long vacation that recently graduated high school kids take
Scratchy: scratch lotto ticket
Servo: service station/petrol station
Shout: someone’s turn to buy a round of drinks, “Your shout, mate”
Singlet: sleeveless cotton shirt, tank top
Skippy: kangaroo, or slang term for an Australian
Smoko: smoke break, or coffee/tea break even for people who don’t smoke
Snag: sausage
Soft drink: pop or soda
Sparky: electrician
Spewing: very angry
Stubby: bottle of beer
Sunnies: sunglasses
Swimmers: bathing suit

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T

Ta: thanks
Thongs: flip flops
Tinny: can of beer
Tomato sauce: ketchup
Torch: flashlight
Tosser: useless person
Tradie: tradesperson
Trolly: shopping cart

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U

Uey: a U-turn
Ute: utility vehicle, a pick-up truck

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V

Vacay: vacation
Veggo: vegetarian

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W

“Wag school”: skip school

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Y

Yabby: a type of fresh water crayfish found in Australia
Yarn: long story
“Yeah nah”: no

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Z

Zebra crossing: pedestrian crossing painted with white stripes. Pronounced like ‘zeb-bra’ instead of ‘zee-bra’

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Ready to dive a little deeper and explore more of the unique Australian language? Get some insight on the culture, humour, and local languages that inspired some of the weird and wonderful Australian words and sayings with Lonely Planet’s Australian Language and Culture book. ← Click this link, or the image below to shop for this book at Chapters/Indigo.

Lonely Planet Australian Language & Culture 4th Ed.: 4th Edition

Have I missed any Aussie terms or sayings you think should be included? Let me know in the comments below so I can add to the list!


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