Australian slang is informal language used in Australia.
This guide should be viewed as an informal and fun introduction to some Australian idiosyncrasies, rather than a guide on how to communicate.
Increasing globalisation and a move away from rural living has seen Australian English adopt a lot of American terms while at the same time romanticising words commonly associated with the bush. Australians mostly view their slang as being uniquely Australian and an integral part of their culture. Judging by the number of Australian slang books available on the shelves, it remains of interest to travellers too.
Many parts of Australian slang have their origins outside Australia, particularly in England and Ireland. Don't be surprised if many terms seem familiar. However, don't assume that similar slang expressions have the same meaning to Australians as they might in other countries. An attempt to use some Australian slang will likely be viewed as an attempt to mock, rather than as a genuine attempt to speak the local dialect. It's better to use the guide to interpret Steve Irwin's TV shows.
A significant portion of Australian lexicon and place names derive from one of the hundreds of Indigenous Australian languages spoken before the British colonial period, many of which are still spoken today. Some words and names like "Wooloomooloo" or "Kununurra" which visitors to the country may find challenging to pronounce, typically roll off the tongue of Australian English speakers.
English-speaking travellers are best advised just to speak clearly, as most Australians are used to a variety of accents. However, it can never hurt to say "G'day, How ya goin'" to an Aussie.
- How ya goin'
- How are you?
- Not bad mate
- Fine, thank you.
- Cheers mate
- Thank you.
- No worries / No drama
- You're welcome (in response to thank you)
- Excuse me (regarded as uncouth by some people)
- You're right
- That is okay (in response to sorry)
- Yeah, nah
- I understand but disagree
- See ya later
- Hoo roo
- Take it easy
- afternoon, e.g. "Let's meet for a schooner this arvo".
- commonly used to convey an exaggerated view of time, e.g. "I haven't seen you in yonks".
- Red hair
- Red haired (This can be considered offensive.)
You may hear this a lot and it can be used in a wide range of situations, and confusingly it can be either affectionate or insulting. It is not as strong as its use in British English. For example if you experience some luck then you may be referred to as a 'lucky bastard' (in a positive sense). Generally anyone in authority, especially politicians, can be referred to as 'bastards', although a politician with a good and honest reputation may be referred to as a 'good kind of bastard'. You can occasionally refer to friends as bastards, but you should avoid with strangers.
Australians typically have a more laid-back approach to swearing when compared to other countries. Don't be surprised to hear people refer to their friends as "cunts" or add a few unnecessary "fuck"s into their sentences. Most of the time swearing is used for emphasis rather than to cause offence.
- Mad Cunt / Sick Cunt
- A wild / fun person. Not appropriate in most situations but may be heard at bars or parties.
- Damn - a common expression of disappointment, not offensive.
- Drongo, Galah, Turkey
- an idiot or a fool (not generally considered offensive)
- Bloody bastard
- Usually used to show displeasure with an action or dislike of a person
- Sexual intercourse, similar to the British word 'Shag'. Can also be used as a verb. This also affects Australian sporting terminology—while an American would root for a preferred team or athlete, an Australian would barrack for the same.
Sex and Anatomy
- Condom (also Wetcheck, wetty, hoody, raincoat).
- The sexual act.
- The sexual act.
- The sexual act.
- Gob Job
- Grab a feed
- Get something to eat
- Fast food also used instead of "to go" when ordering food.
- To scrounge off a friend, as in scab a feed.
- To be lazy, or to scab as above. A person who bludges is a bludger.
- Macca's Run
- Late night trip to McDonald's, usually after a few alcoholic drinks.
- alcoholic drink, likely beer.
- Cheap wine.
- Cheap wine that comes in a box.
- Somebody who is very drunk.
- drunk (as opposed to annoyed, though can be used to mean annoyed in context)
- Pony, Middy, Pot, Schooner, Handle
- Various sizes of glass (usually used for beer). Definitions vary by state.
- Alcoholic beverage
Clothing and Accessories
- A sleeveless shirt
- Any tradesperson
- Anybody at all, more commonly used by males, friends, someone you have never met
- Someone that you know, but have forgotten their name.
- Australian - pronounced Ozzy.
- A group of family or friends - "us mob".
- Plural of you - pronounced 'Yooz'. Only common in working-class areas.
- A person who likes to appear anti-social or non-law abiding, usually speak in an Ocker fashion; favoured expression outside of Sydney to describe Westies.
- A person from the western suburbs of Sydney or Melbourne. (both being working-class neighbourhoods)
- Truck driver
- Biker, usually used to refer to members of an outlaw motorcycle gang, rather than members of a motorbike club.
- A description of unique Aussie culture. An ocker Aussie would use a lot these words often.
- Banana Benders
- Cane Toads
- Queenslanders; especially used to refer to the state's representative rugby league team and its supporters
- Somebody from New South Wales (usually by Queenslanders in reference to the State of Origin rugby league rivalry)
- A woman
- An American
- An American (pejorative)
- A New Zealander
- An Englishman
- A Chinese person (pejorative)
- An East/Southeast Asian (pejorative)
- Curry (Muncher)
- An Indian, or more broadly South Asian (pejorative)
- An immigrant, often used to describe Pacific Islanders as well as East and Southeast Asians (pejorative). Stands for "Fresh Off (the) Boat", i.e. a recent immigrant.
- Someone from Southern Europe or Eastern Europe, usually Italian or Greek (may be considered racist)
- An Indigenous Australian (pejorative)
- A person with red hair, derived from orangutan (pejorative)
- The bush
- areas outside of major cities and towns.
- The outback
- often attributed to the deserts of inland Australia, but more often, that which is further away from cities than the 'bush' on the coast
- Woop Woop
- The middle of nowhere (e.g.: So I was stuck out whoop whoop...)
- Service Station (Gas Station in North America)
- Bottle Shop (Liquor Store)
- Pharmacy (also used), Drug Store
- The McDonald's restaurant chain
- Hungry Jacks
- Exactly the same as 'Burger King' restaurant chain anywhere else in the world
- Gone walkabout
- When the location of someone/something is unknown, e.g. my phone's gone walkabout
- Chicken or fowl