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Expat Life

Visiting Australia? 100+ Australian Slangs & Pronunciations For You MATE!

Visiting Australia? 100+ Australian Slangs and Pronunciations For You MATE!

Home to beaches and kangaroos, the starkly beautiful Outback and the iconic Sydney Opera House; Australia offers its residents a charming mix of natural beauty and cosmopolitan living environment. Its economy has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few decades and its world-class cities have low pollution levels and more advanced infrastructure systems than many other global cities. In short, the land Down Under is one of the world’s most urbanised and multicultural countries that offers current and potential expats a very good quality of life. 

If you’re moving to Australia or even planning to, good on ya, mate! By now you probably have all the information you need about things like visas, housing, food, the standard of living, etc. But what about the language? It’s English, alright, but with an Australian flavour to it.  

Every country in the world has its own unique take on a language, and Australia is no different. Australian English has so many interesting phrases and ‘colloquialisms’ (slang) that it can sometimes sound like a totally different language, especially to someone unfamiliar with its many quirks. 

So if you want to interact more comfortably with your colleagues or ‘mates’ and avoid making an embarrassing faux pas in a social setting or simply learn how to speak like local blokes or sheilas, buckle up and read on… 

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Why Australian English Is Truly Unique 

Visiting Australia? 100+ Australian Slangs and Pronunciations For You MATE!

Like other multicultural societies such as Britain, the USA, New Zealand and Canada; English is one of the most commonly spoken languages in Australia.  

However, Australian English is more informal and humorous and owes much of its character to its history as a British penal colony. Due to the convict influence and a desire to develop a different linguistic tradition from the ‘mother country’, it shows a bias towards the: 

  • The invention of new terms: For example, the Aussie phrase “Do the Harry” means to disappear 
  • Application of visual imagery: The simile “mad as a cut snake” means to be very angry or upset 
  • Deception to conceal the true meaning of a term: For example, the term “ratbag” can be an endearment or an insult, depending upon the speaker’s tone and context of the conversation 

Australian English also tends to be humorous and uses it to indicate affection or invoke laughter even in formal settings such as government meetings or TV appearances! 

Australians also tend to shorten some words and sentences. Often, these ‘diminutives’ are formed by taking the first part of a word and substituting an a, o, ie or y sound for the rest of the word. For example, instead of saying “let’s have a barbeque this afternoon after the football game”, an Australian native may say “let’s have a barbie this arvo after footy”. And rather than saying “Carry an umbrella” an Australian would probably say “Carry a brolly mate!” 

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Expat Guide: Useful Australian Slang Every Expat Must Know 

People 

Australian English Term  Meaning 
Ankle Biter  Child 
Bloke  Man 
Bludger  Lazy person, someone who doesn’t work 
Brickie  Bricklayer 
Chalkie  Teacher 
Chippy  Carpenter 
Cobber  Friend, companion 
Dag  A funny person 
Garbo  Garbage (rubbish) collector 
Goose  Foolish person, clown (light-hearted or affectionate insult) 
Jackaroo /  

Jillaroo 

Male trainee manager at a cattle station;  

Female trainee manager at a cattle station 

(A) loose cannon  Someone with little or no self-control 
Ocker  A person with a heavy Australian accent 
Pelican  Foolish or idiotic person (often a light-hearted or affectionate insult similar to Goose) 
Postie  Postman 
Rello  Relative 
Sheila  Woman 
Sparky  Electrician 
Spunk  Good-looking person 
Top bloke  Good person 
Tosser  A nasty person 
Tradie  Trader 
Truckie  Truck driver 

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 Greetings & Exclamations 

Australian English Term  Meaning 
Ace!  Very good! Excellent! 
Blimey 

 

Expressions of amazement or surprise 
Fair dinkum  An exclamation that something is genuine or true. EgOf course I’m telling the truth!, Yeah, honestly! 
G’day 

G’day, mate 

Hello 
Give it a burl  Give something a try 
Go on!  I’m not convinced you know what you’re talking about 
Have a go, ya mug!  Term to encourage someone to attempt something, especially if they’re unsure or not putting in a full effort 
Hooroo   Goodbye 
How ya goin’ luv?  I hope you’re well 
Nah, yeah  Unsure Yes 
No worries 

No drama 

Don’t worry about it, everything will turn out alright 
Onya bike  Get lost, leave 
Keep your pants on  Be patient! 
Put a sock in it!  Shut up! 
Rack off!    Get lost! 
Shut ya gob!   Shut up! 

Tell it to someone who cares 

Ta   Thank you 
That’s really sick, mate!   That’s awesome! 
Wanna cuppa?  Do you want a cup of tea or coffee? 
Yeah, nah  Unsure No 
You little ripper!  Delighted exclamation in reaction to good news 

 Food & drink 

Australian English Term  Meaning 
Bevie  Beer 
Avo  Avocado 
Barbie  Barbecue 
Boozer xxx  Alcoholic 
Bottle-O 

Bottlo 

Liquor shop 
Brekkie 

Brekky 

Breakfast 
Chewiev  Chewing gum 
Chokkie  Chocolate 
Chook  Chicken 
Tomato sauce  Tomato ketchup 
Durry  Tobacco, cigarette 
Esky  Large insulated food and drink container for outdoor picnics or barbecues 
Goon  Cheap Wine 
Grog  Liquor 
Hungers  Hungover 
Lollies  Candy/sweets 
Maccas  McDonald’s 
Milk bar  Corner shop that sells takeaway food 
Roadie  A ‘takeaway’ beer 
Sanger / 

Sanga 

Sandwich 
Sausage sizzle  A sausage served with white bread and tomato ketchup 
Slab  A carton of 24 cans (or bottles) of beer 
Smoko  Quick smoke/food/coffee break at work 
Stubby  A small bottle of beer 
The lot  Australian burger with ‘everything’ in it such as meat, lettuce, egg, bacon, pineapple, onion, cheese, beetroot and tomato (or tomato sauce) 
Tinnie  Can of beer 
Tucker  Food 
Turps  Alcohol 
Vegies  Vegetables 

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Activities, Leisure & Day-To-Day Life 

Australian English Term  Meaning 
Ambo  Ambulance  
Arvo  Afternoon 
Swimmers  Swimming costume 
Brolly  Umbrella 
Budgie smugglers  Men’s bathing costume (speedos) 
Bush telly   Campfire 
Bush  The Outback or anywhere that isn’t in town 
Chemist 

(also known as Pharmacy) 

Drugstore 
Daks  Trousers 
Dunny  Outside toilet 
Flanno  A flannelette shirt 
Footie 

Footy 

Australian Rules Football 
Grundies  Women’s underwear 
Mates rates  Discounts 
Moolah  Money 
Servo  Service/petrol station 
Sunnies  Sunglasses 
Thongs  Casual backless sandals 
Togs  Swimsuit 
Tracky dacks  Sweat pants/tracksuit pants 
Ute  Pickup truck (utility vehicle) 

 Descriptive Words & Similes 

Australian English Term  Meaning 
Big Smoke  A big city such as Melbourne or Sydney 
Bloody ripper  Really great, awesome 
Blind  Drunk 
Blotto  Drunk beyond the capacity to stand 
Bonzer  Good 
Buggered  Tired 
Chockers /  

Choc A bloc 

Completely full, full to the brim 
Corker  Excellent 
Crook  Ill 
Cut  Angry or upset 
Deadset  Definite, absolute 
Defo  Definitely, for sure 
Devvo  Devastated 
Dogged it  Didn’t show up as expected 
Etch  Suspicious 
Exy  Expensive 
Festy  Dirty or disgusting 
Flat chat  Very busy 
Frothing  Very keen 
Full  Drunk 
Heaps  Loads, lots, many 
It’s London to a brick  It’s a certainty;  

There’s no doubt at all 

Knackered  Tired 
Mad as a cut snake  Crazy/eccentric or angry 
Mad as a gum tree full of galahs  Completely crazy 
More than you can shake a stick at  More than you can handle;  

More than you expected 

Ridgey-didge  Legitimate 
Stoked  Happy, pleased 
Sweet as  Awesome 
True blue  Authentically Australian 

Action Words 

Australian English Term  Meaning 
Aussie salute  Brushing flies away with the hand 
Blowing the froth off a few  Drinking alcohol 
Carrying on like a pork chop  Someone acting silly or crazy;  

Someone complaining or ranting 

Chuck a sickie  Take a day off work or school feigning ill health 
Do a U-ey  To make a U-turn in a vehicle 
Drink with the flies  Drink alone 
Fair shake of the sauce bottle /  

Fair crack of the whip 

To give someone a fair chance at something 
Fix you up  To pay back money owed 
(Give someone the) Flick  To get rid of someone 
Go Walkabout  To go missing;  

Go somewhere without warning 

Hit the frog and toad  Hit the road 
(To be) On the cans  Drinking alcohol 
She’ll be right  Everything will work out;  

Everything will be fine, don’t worry 

(My) Shout  To buy the next round of drinks 
Spit the dummy  To throw a tantrum 
Suss it out 

 

To figure out a tricky situation 
Taking the piss  To make fun of someone but not necessarily in a malicious way 
Yabber  To talk a lot 

Distinctive Australian Pronunciations 

The Australian accent is unique and has diverged greatly from the original British (or English) accent. For people unfamiliar with the lingo and the accent, it can be a little difficult to understand, at least in the beginning. 

In general, Australian pronunciations are more similar to British English pronunciations than to American pronunciations. While American English puts the stress on the final syllable, Australian English and British English stress an earlier syllable. However, there are some cases where the Australian accent sounds closer to the American accent than to the British accent.  

And in some cases, even for words that are common to British, American and Australian English in usage and meaning (even if spellings are different), the pronunciations are often uniquely Australian. The table below gives some examples of all 3 types of words and accents: 

  • Similar pronunciation in Australian English and American English 
  • Similar pronunciation in Australian English and British English 
  • Completely different pronunciation in Australian English from both American and British English 
 Word  Pronunciation   

Pronunciation 

 

 

Pronunciation 

 

American English  British English  Australian English 
Aunt  Ant  Aa-nt  Aa-nt 
Butter  Bu-dder  Bu-tter  Bu-dder 
Car  Carrr  Caa  Caa: The end r is ‘non-rhotic’, i.e. not pronounced 
Caramel  Caar-mel  Ca-ra-mel  Ca-ra-mel 
Cliché  Cli-shay  Clee-shay  Clee-shay 
Data  Day-ta  Day-ta  Daa-ta 
Daughter  Dau-der  Daugh-ter  Daugh-ter: The hard t is pronounced and the end r is not pronounced 
Detail  Di-tail  Dee-tail  Dee-tail 
Entrepreneur  Ont-re-pre-nure  Ont-re-pre-ner  Ont-re-pre-ner 
Garage  Ga-raage  Gaa-rage  Gaa-rage: Emphasis on the 1st syllable rather than the 2nd 
Good day  Good day  Good day  G’day 
Hot  Ha-at  Hawt  Hawt 
Leisure  Lee-jher  Ley-jher  Ley-jher 
Letter  Le-dderrr  Le-tter  Le-dder: The end r is not pronounced 
Mobile  Mo-bil  Mo-byle  Mo-byle 
Niche  Ni-tch  Neesh  Neesh 
Privacy  Pry-vacy  Pree-vacy  Pry-vacy 
Salon  Sa-lawn  Saa-lon  Saa-lon 
Today  Today  Today  To-dieee 
Tomato  To-may-to  To-mah-to  To-mah-to 
Vase  Vay-se  Vaa-se  Vaa-se 
Vitamin  Vy-tamin  Vi-tamin  Vy-tamin 
Water  Wa-derrr  Wa-ter  Wa-der: The end r is not pronounced 
Yoghurt  Yoh-gurt  Yog-urt  Yoh-gurtSilent h 

Before You Go 

Interesting stuff, huh? Australia is not only one of the most livable countries in the world, in terms of its healthcare, education, infrastructure, environment and culture, but the people of the world’s smallest continent are as big-hearted and vibrant as the nation they call home. 

However, getting used to the quirkiness of Australian English can be a challenge for new expats, especially if they don’t come from an English-speaking background. We hope that this guide helps you understand the Aussies better.

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