As an English-speaker, you may think going to Australia means you’ll be able to understand the people and communicate easily 100% of the time, right? Well, not completely, actually. The Australians also have a LOT of slang words and phrases of their own that can leave an American standing there, dumbfounded, and often repeatedly saying, “What???”
Test time… Can YOU understand the following Aussie sentence: “Hi! How you going? I just changed out of my jim jams and I’ll meet you at Maccas for brekky… I’m wearing a singlet, red jumper, trackies, and white runners.”
Well… if you had a few problems understand any word in that sentence, then my little “Guide to Australian slang” below will help.
When I first befriended a few Australians back in 2006 on my Contiki Euro tour, I swear—I didn’t understand HALF of what they were saying!! It was like they had their own “secret language” and I started to feel foolish that I had to constantly ask them what they said or what they meant. Over time, I eventually learned more and more of this special “Aussie language” and soon could figure out what my Australian friends were saying… well, at least MOST of the time.
HOWEVER, on this past trip to Australia, I spent a much longer amount of time at friends and family houses, and in everyday life there are SO many more new slang words that eventually came up! So I found myself saying, “Huh??” time and time again. Oh yea, and the Aussie slang differs from state to state, so the fact that I visited Queensland, New South Wales (Sydney), Victoria (Melbourne), AND South Australia (Adelaide), means that I was surrounded constantly by Aussie slang galore!
Anyway, so during my travels, I jotted down any new “Aussie slang” word or phrase I learned, and I thought I would share them with you (for educational as well as entertainment purposes.)
Without further ado, here is my “Guide to Aussie slang”
Slang word for McDonald’s
(This Aussie nickname for McDonald’s has become so popular, that they actually use this name—instead of McDonald’s— in their TV commercials!)
Vacation. “We’re going on holiday in September for two weeks to Greece.”
Fries. “Would you like some chips with your hamburger?”— yea, that means French fries, NOT potato chips!
Eraser (for pencils)
A LOT. **This word is used CONSTANTLY by Aussies!** “Thanks heaps for your help.” “There were heaps of people at the bar today.”
A women’s tank top that has thin straps
A sweatshirt with a zipper
Flip flop sandals
A “water shirt” you put over your bathing suit to protect you from the sun or from scraping your skin on rocks/coral
Swimmers / Bathers / Togs
Slang for the “speedo” type swimming bottoms that men wear. Basically, it’s a word meaning you are “smuggling” a bird under your suit bottoms. Lovely. haha!
Sneakers / running shoes
Bin / Rubbish
Garbage can / garbage. “I have some rubbish to throw out… where is your bin?”
Days/nights. Instead of saying, “Only two more days until I see you!” they say, “Only two more sleeps until I see you!”
Jello (like the colorful gelatin dessert)
Electrical outlet (the outlet in the wall where you plug electronics into)
Pharmacy / drug store. “I need to go to the chemist today to pick up my prescription.”
The letter “Z”. Yes, so when they recite the alphabet, instead of saying, “zee” for the last letter, they say, “zed.”
Shady, questionable. “That man over there in the alley looks very dodgy.”
Bell Pepper (watch for this at grocery stores as well as restaurants. If you don’t like bell peppers, make sure you don’t order anything that has “capsicum” in it, because it’s the same thing!)
Overhead bin (in an airplane)
The trunk (of a car)
A late afternoon meal, or main meal at evening. “We will have tea at 6pm tonight” (meaning, we are having dinner at 6pm tonight)
Bangs (hair). “I got my hair cut today; I now have fringe!”
Chock a block
Very full, filled to capacity. “The bar was chock-a-block of men tonight.”
How you going?
How you doing?
Get laid off (your job). “I was with the company for ten years, so I was surprised I was made redundant.”
Mail it / stamp it. “I’ll post your gift tomorrow.”
Ring him/her/you/them up
Call him/her/you/them on the phone. “I’ll ring you up tomorrow night.”
Passing lane (on the highway)
Slang for a women’s breasts
Paying me/you out
Giving you a hard time, “giving you shit”
Closet. “If you need a towel for showering, check the linen press in the hallway.”
Hit on (pick up somebody in a bar, etc.) – “That guy at the front desk just tried to crack on to me!”
Nickname for one of the main supermarket chains, “Woolworths”
Scab a cigarette
Bum a cigarette. “Hey, can I scab a cigarette from you?”
Get drunk. “I totally got pissed last night!”
Expensive. “That Mercedes is extremely dear.”
A bathroom that’s attached to the main bedroom
Do you know any “Aussie slang” words that weren’t listed here? Please share your own Aussie slang below!