We’d somehow got onto the topic of adolescence and I was telling him a story about what some of my wilder friends would get up to after hours with the boys from the local high school. I told him how they’d meet at a park in town to fool around. They would then either call me up, or spend the next day at school regaling what manner of R-rated activities they got up to, whilst straddling their fellas on the playground’s slippery dip. (I was fourteen years old and had barely even held hands with a boy at this point. I was pretty easy to shock).
I finished my anecdote. He looked at me and blinked.
“But,” he scrambled for words. “…What’s a slippery dip?”
“Really?” I asked, in retort. “That’s what we’re going to focus on?”
For the record, it’s a slide.
I soon realised that despite having grown up learning the English language, I’d often lapse into Australian slang with my foreign friends, who would either stare at me blankly, or pretend they knew what the hell I was going on about, often with hilarious results for us both.
So, here’s a rundown of the most popular Australian slang words and phrases. I’ve tried to limit this list to words I’ve heard others use recently and I’ve eliminated almost all the racial terms. There’s an image of my country that does not need any more perpetuating.
NB: Some of this slang has British origins, but have been so deeply imbedded into the Australian vernacular, that it deserves a place on this list.
To be aggravated, or a bit grumpy.
Short for afternoon.
To leave. “The dinner was boring, so Steven decided to bail.”
A biscuit (or cookie), commonly used in the phrase “tea and biccies”, a hangover of Australia’s colonial days.
A form of terminology used by Australia’s Indigenous population. So, don’t freak out if you hear someone of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent refer to themselves as such in conversation.
Not a swear word, “bloody” is generally used for extra emphasis. I.e. Lisa was having a bloody good time at Sam’s party.
A good-for-nothing layabout.
A bogan is a stereotypical Australian, with a potty mouth, bad dress sense and a fondness for alcoholic beverages.
A silly-billy. This is the nickname my family have traditionally applied to our dogs.
A bottle shop or off-licence.
The first meal of the day.
To have little or no chance of achieving something. “She had buckleys of getting to work on time.” That may or may not be me, most days.
The Australian bush, but is also used to refer to anywhere rural.
A case of beer.
A bogan with money. Due to Australia’s mining boom, many blue collared workers have made a tonne of money in recent decades, leading to the invention of this term.
Chips can refer to either hot chips (fries) or crisps. It’s all about the context.
To be in close proximation of something, like “Tom lived within cooee of the local fish and chip shop.”
A swimming costume.
An injustice. “Those weren’t the best burgers in Perth! That place is such a crock.”
To be ill. “Alex was feeling crook.”
An eccentric or sloppy person.
Short for derelict. Can be applied to any noun – person, place or item.
To be devastated.
A dirty act. If Jimmy kissed Riley’s girlfriend it would be considered a “dog move”.
Someone on welfare.
Traditionally an outdoor toilet.
Uttered when one is in agreement with another, when a reasonable statement is uttered. “The sky is blue and what would you know anyway, because you are colour-blind.” “Okay. Fair call.”
To speed with enthusiasm, particularly around corners.
An expression of exclamation, often used instead of the other F-word…
Someone who is a bit of a dirty hippy.
Australia’s Indigenous population.
Boxed wine, popular amongst the student crowd. This has led to the popular backyard game of “goon of fortune”, where the bag is removed from the box and pinned to the clothes line. It is then spun around and whoever it lands on has to have a drink, pouring it straight from the clothesline into their mouth.
Once empty, a goon bag can be inflated to form a makeshift pillow.
Cool, excellent. “That dinner you made was grouse, Louise.”
Hard work. “Walking up this hill is hard yakka.”
Used for positive emphasis. “That concert was heaps good.”
A clothing line that folds in on itself, not unlike an umbrella. Perfect for hanging your goonbag off.
A hot water bottle.
To be ready, eager to do a particular thing. “Would you like to go to the movies?” “Yeah. I’m keen.”
A dying breed of Australian, who is easy-going and fun-loving, whilst being a bit cheeky.
A 750ml bottle of beer.
MacDonalds. “I’m gonna go for a late night maccas run. Does anyone want a cheeseburger?”
Linen and sheets. Apparently this term came about from boxes of the stuff being shipped over from England with “Manchester” being written on them. That was taken to mean what the items were, rather than the city they had come from!
This is how every Australian will constantly refer to you. People at work call me “mate” and because I’ve been out of the country for years, I find it annoying and condescending now and constantly have to remind myself that that’s not supposed to be the case.
A 285ml glass of beer, also known as a “pot” in some states.
A derogatory term often used by women to describe other women. “Sheena kissed Kylie’s boyfriend.” “Ugh. She’s such a mole.”
A bad tempered person.
Money, cold hard cash.
A response to someone asking a request of someone else. “Will, would you be able to get a side of garlic bread with that pizza order?” “Sure – no dramas.”
Pretty much Australia’s national catchphrase. Used in place of “all right” and “fine”.
To be naked. “He ran around the backyard in the nuddy, after playing goon of fortune.”
A rough, uncultivated Australian. The stereotypical Aussie accent is considered to be “ocker”. Yet, people from the cities don’t tend to speak that way, which is why people are constantly confused by mine.
The desert. It’s a beautiful place and well worth visiting.
A charity store and where I personally buy most of my clothing.
One’s parents or folks.
Used in lieu of a person’s name. Particularly handy if you’ve forgotten the name of whoever you’re referring to at the time. “I saw Shelley kissing old mate the other day. You know. The guy with the hair.”
To kiss, with tongue.
To gaze upon one, with somewhat dirty intentions.
Slot machines. Gambling is massive in Australia, particularly in New South Wales.
Pom, pommie, pommies
Similar to a midi – 285ml in size and the standard size of a drink in the state of Victoria (make sure you ask for a pint instead, if you want a bigger drink).
To party. “He raged at the blue light disco all night long.”
To be excited about something. “She was rapt as she had always wanted to go on a Backstreet Boys’ cruise.”
To state an agreement with someone, you’d simply answer “I reckon you’re right.”
To indicate that something is good, ie “You little ripper!”
To arrive. “Mollie rocked up to Brad’s party, half an hour late.”
To be exhausted, I guess to the same point as what you’d be if you’d engaged in vigorous sex, as root means that too. Although that’s not my intended meaning when I get home, collapse on the couch and announce that I’m rooted – I can assure you of that!
To be quite angry, to see red.
To be cheated, a dishonest practice. “That was a bit of a rort.”
A glass of beer at 425ml (yes, we have many different drink measurements here!)
A service station or centre.
To chuck a sickie is to stay home from work. You may or may not be actually sick.
Someone from New Zealand.
Of poor quality. “That chicken was shithouse. I will never dine at Red Rooster again.”
To treat someone. “It was his shout for drinks.”
A case or carton of beer.
As mentioned earlier, a simple playground slide.
Someone who’s being a bit whingy or is seeking attention.
To be angry about something. “She was spewing because she’d left her phone at work.”
Not what you think it means – rather, it’s someone you find attractive. “Mary thought Jarred was super spunky.”
The country of “Australia”.
How Australian’s speak – this post is an example of such!
To be pooped. “He’d been drinking at the beach all day and he was stuffed.”
Tracksuit or sweat pants.
Someone who works in a trade – electricians, plumbers, builders, etc.
Australia’s national footwear – everyone else knows them as “flip flops”.
A response when someone says thank you to you, similar to ‘no problem’. “Thanks for my pint of beer.” “Too easy, mate.”
The far north of the country – the Northern Territory.
Alcohol. “To get on the turps” is to drink.
To manoeuvre one’s car into a u-turn is to “chuck a u-ie.”
A flat or apartment.
A pickup truck.
Anywhere far away from where a conversation (or convo) is taking place. “Ah yeah, TJ lives out woop woop, doesn’t he?”
Do you have anymore slang words to add to this list?
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