Australian English

Whilst Australians speak English, there are some words and expressions used that are unique to Australia. Here are some of them:

ANZAC — Australia and New Zealand Army Corps

barbie(BBQ) — barbecue
bathers — word used in South Australia to refer to a swimming garment
battler — someone who works hard but stills only just makes a living
bikie — motorcyclist, usually a member of a motorcycle gang
bloke — a man
bludger — someone who lives off the labour of others
booze — alcohol
bush — countryside
bushranger — an outlaw
BYO — “bring your own” (usually means “bring your own alcohol”)

chocka(s) — full up (“We’re chockas”)
chook — a hen, chicken
chunder — vomit (noun or verb)
cranky — irritable, in a bad temper
crook — sick or badly made (verb)
cuppa — a cup of tea or coffee
cut lunch — sandwiches
cya — see you

digger — Australian soldier
dodgy — not done properly (eg “a dodgy job”)
dolled up — dressed up eg “she’s all dolled up tonight”.
drongo — stupid person

Esky — a plastic box which is insulated to keep picnic food cool

fairy floss — cotton candy
free loader — someone who expects others to pay for them.

galah — fool
give it a burl — try it, have to go
grizzle guts — someone who complains
g’day — good day or hello
good on ya — well done, general term of approval
grog — alcohol, beer

heaps — a lot
hoon — a hooligan
road train — a very big truck with several trailers
rock up — to turn up, to arrive
roo — kangaroo
rooted, exhausted or broken, ruined
ropeable — very angry
rubbish(verb) to criticise

schooner — a small beer glass in South Australia
shonky — shoddy, dubious
shoot through — to leave
shout — (noun) turn to buy a round of drinks eg “it’s your shout”
show pony — someone who tries hard to impress people, to show off
skull(verb) to drink a tin or bottle of beer in one go without taking a breath
slab — a box of beer with 24 bottles or tins
sleepout — a house verandah, converted to a bedroom
sleazebag — despicable person
snag — a sausage
spit the dummy — to get very upset with someone
sprung — to be caught doing something wrong
spunk — a good looking person
squizz(verb) to take a look at, eg “have squizz at this”.
sponging — parasitic
spruced up — dressed up
sticky beak — nosy, prying person
stoked — to be very pleased
stroppy — bad tempered
stuffed — tired, exhausted

tall poppy — someone who is successful
tea — sometimes used to refer to the evening meal
tee up — to set up an appointment
tomato sauce — ketchup
Top End — the far north of Australia

up oneself — to have a high opinion of oneself
ute — a utility truck

veg out — to relax (like a vegetable)
vegemite — black, yeast based bread spread

wagging school — not attending school
whinge — to complain
woop woop — a name for any small unimportant town a long way away
wuss — a coward, nervous person

Yank — an American
Yobbo — uneducated person

Nicknames in Australia
In Australia, it is very common for people to be given a nickname. Nicknames are often created by adding the sound “ee” to someone’s name. Some examples are:

Susie (Susan) Mandy (Amanda)
Debbie (Deborah) Robbie (Robert)
Cathy (Catherine) Jonny (Jennifer)
Andy (Andrew)  

Another way a nickname is created is by shortening someone’s name. Some examples of this are:

Barb(Barbara) Dave (David) Deb (Deborah)
Bob (Robert) Pete (Peter) Sue (Susan)
Cath (Catherine) Pat (Patricia Pam (Pamela)
Chris (Christopher or Patrick) Trish (Patricia)
of Christine) Sam (Samuel Steve (Stephen)
Rob (Robert) or Samantha) Phil (Philip)

We also give people nicknames by adding the sound “O” to their name. For example; “Johno”(John)

Common Expressions
Some expressions you may hear in everyday conversation include:

  • “flat out”, eg; “She’s flat out at the moment”. This means that someone is very busy.
  • “tied up”, eg; “She’s tied up at the moment”. This is similar to “flat out” but usually means that someone is doing something at the moment and can’t attend to you.
  • “nicked out”, eg; I’m just nicking out for a minute”. This means that someone is going out for a short time.
  • “popped out” means the same as “nicked out”.
  • “no worries” means “that’s fine” or “you’re welcome”
  • “grab a bite” means to go and get something to eat quickly