Australia

Nobody Likes a Bogan: An Introduction to Australian Slang

April 13, 2017

australian slang intro

Beach huts on Brighton Beach, in Victoria.

When I first moved to Doha, I had a memorable conversation with a British friend.

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.

Australian slang can be downright confusing. Here's an introduction to some of the most popular terminology in the Aussie vernacular.

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.

Related: Visiting Australia? Here’s What NOT to Do

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.

Agro

To be aggravated, or a bit grumpy.

Arvo

Short for afternoon.

Bail

To leave. “The dinner was boring, so Steven decided to bail.”

Biccie

A biscuit (or cookie), commonly used in the phrase “tea and biccies”, a hangover of Australia’s colonial days.

Blackfella

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.

Bloody

Not a swear word, “bloody” is generally used for extra emphasis. I.e. Lisa was having a bloody good time at Sam’s party.

Bludger

A good-for-nothing layabout.

Bogan

A bogan is a stereotypical Australian, with a potty mouth, bad dress sense and a fondness for alcoholic beverages.

Boofhead

A silly-billy. This is the nickname my family have traditionally applied to our dogs.

Bottle-o

A bottle shop or off-licence.

Brekky

The first meal of the day.

Buckleys

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.

Bush

The Australian bush, but is also used to refer to anywhere rural.

Carton

A case of beer.

Cashed-up Bogan

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.

Chewy

Chewing gum.

Chips

Chips can refer to either hot chips (fries) or crisps. It’s all about the context.

Convo

A conversation.

Cooee

To be in close proximation of something, like “Tom lived within cooee of the local fish and chip shop.”

Cozzie

A swimming costume.

Crock

An injustice. “Those weren’t the best burgers in Perth! That place is such a crock.”

Crook

To be ill. “Alex was feeling crook.”

Dag

An eccentric or sloppy person.

Dero

Short for derelict. Can be applied to any noun – person, place or item.

Devo

To be devastated.

Dog

A dirty act. If Jimmy kissed Riley’s girlfriend it would be considered a “dog move”.

Dole bludger

Someone on welfare.

Dunny

Traditionally an outdoor toilet.

Exy

Expensive.

Fair call

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.”

Fang it

To speed with enthusiasm, particularly around corners.

Far Out

An expression of exclamation, often used instead of the other F-word…

Feral

Someone who is a bit of a dirty hippy.

First Peoples

Australia’s Indigenous population.

Franger

A condom.

Goon

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.

Grouse

Cool, excellent. “That dinner you made was grouse, Louise.”

Hard Yakka

Hard work. “Walking up this hill is hard yakka.”

Heaps

Used for positive emphasis. “That concert was heaps good.”

Hills hoist

A clothing line that folds in on itself, not unlike an umbrella. Perfect for hanging your goonbag off.

Hooroo

A farewell.

Hottie

A hot water bottle.

Keen

To be ready, eager to do a particular thing. “Would you like to go to the movies?” “Yeah. I’m keen.”

Journo

A journalist.

Larrikin

A dying breed of Australian, who is easy-going and fun-loving, whilst being a bit cheeky.

Lollies

Sweets.

Longneck

A 750ml bottle of beer.

Maccas

MacDonalds. “I’m gonna go for a late night maccas run. Does anyone want a cheeseburger?”

Manchester

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!

Mate

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.

Midi

A 285ml glass of beer, also known as a “pot” in some states.

Mole

A derogatory term often used by women to describe other women. “Sheena kissed Kylie’s boyfriend.” “Ugh. She’s such a mole.”

Mongrel

A bad tempered person.

Moolah

Money, cold hard cash.

Mozzie

A mosquito.

No dramas

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.”

No worries!

Pretty much Australia’s national catchphrase. Used in place of “all right” and “fine”.

Nuddy

To be naked. “He ran around the backyard in the nuddy, after playing goon of fortune.”

Ocker

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 Outback

The desert. It’s a beautiful place and well worth visiting.

Op Shop

A charity store and where I personally buy most of my clothing.

Olds, Oldies

One’s parents or folks.

Old mate

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.”

Oz

Straya, mate!

Pash

To kiss, with tongue. 

Perve

To gaze upon one, with somewhat dirty intentions.

Pokies

Slot machines. Gambling is massive in Australia, particularly in New South Wales.

Pom, pommie, pommies

The English.

Pot

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).

Prezzie

A present.

Rage

To party. “He raged at the blue light disco all night long.”

Rapt

To be excited about something. “She was rapt as she had always wanted to go on a Backstreet Boys’ cruise.”

Ratbag

A scallywag.

Reckon

To state an agreement with someone, you’d simply answer “I reckon you’re right.”

Rego

Car registration.

Relos

One’s relatives.

Ripper

To indicate that something is good, ie “You little ripper!”

Rock up

To arrive. “Mollie rocked up to Brad’s party, half an hour late.”

Rooted

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!

Ropeable

To be quite angry, to see red.

Rort

To be cheated, a dishonest practice. “That was a bit of a rort.”

Sanga

A sandwich.

Snag

A sausage.

Schooner

A glass of beer at 425ml (yes, we have many different drink measurements here!)

Servo

A service station or centre.

Sickie

To chuck a sickie is to stay home from work. You may or may not be actually sick.

Sheepshagger

Someone from New Zealand.

Shithouse

Of poor quality. “That chicken was shithouse. I will never dine at Red Rooster again.”

Shout

To treat someone. “It was his shout for drinks.”

Slab

A case or carton of beer.

Slippery-dip

As mentioned earlier, a simple playground slide.

Sook

Someone who’s being a bit whingy or is seeking attention.

Spewing

To be angry about something. “She was spewing because she’d left her phone at work.”

Spunk

Not what you think it means – rather, it’s someone you find attractive. “Mary thought Jarred was super spunky.”

Straya

The country of “Australia”.

Strine

How Australian’s speak – this post is an example of such!

Stuffed

To be pooped. “He’d been drinking at the beach all day and he was stuffed.”

Sunnies

Sunglasses.

Trackie-daks

Tracksuit or sweat pants.

Tradie

Someone who works in a trade – electricians, plumbers, builders, etc.

Thongs

Australia’s national footwear – everyone else knows them as “flip flops”.

Too Easy

A response when someone says thank you to you, similar to ‘no problem’. “Thanks for my pint of beer.” “Too easy, mate.”

Top End

The far north of the country – the Northern Territory.

Tucker

Food.

Turps

Alcohol. “To get on the turps” is to drink.

U-ie

To manoeuvre one’s car into a u-turn is to “chuck a u-ie.”

Unit

A flat or apartment.

Ute

A pickup truck.

Vego

A vegetarian.

Woop woop

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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14 Comments

  • Reply Josie April 15, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Love these posts! Most of the words I don’t commonly use, but I am forever saying “no worries” and I just can’t stop that habit. I do get a few strange looks when travelling! “Thongs” is another one that got me some weird looks. I would not have even considered that “slippery dip” would not be understood!

    • Reply LC April 17, 2017 at 3:14 am

      I say “no worries” like a woman possessed, so I feel your pain. And neither! A slippery dip is a slippery dip… duh!

  • Reply Kati April 19, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Haha, some really good ones here! ‘no worries’ is so pervasive, I don’t even notice that anymore. I thought of a few others as well but now, of course, I can’t for the life of me think of them…

    • Reply LC April 20, 2017 at 3:35 am

      Let me know if any come to mind!

      • Reply Kati April 24, 2017 at 3:41 am

        There’s a fair bit of ‘fair dinkum’ usage in our household. 😀 I will put some more thought into this when I have a moment to breathe as it’s one of my favourite things to talk about (I’m an ESL teacher and my academic background is in linguistics). 😀

        • Reply LC April 24, 2017 at 5:57 am

          I was having a discussion about “fair dinkum” with someone and I’m starting to think it’s become a QLD thing – I’ve not heard anyone in NSW or VIC say it for donkeys. I’d love to have the input of a pro, that’s for sure!

          • Kati April 24, 2017 at 7:50 am

            Well, neither my husband nor I are Queenslanders, in fact, he’s a born and bred Melburnian. We only moved up here three years ago and he’s been ‘fair dinkuming’ ever since I’ve known him (and that’s been a fair few years). I’ve got a few VIC friends who use it too. Just my two cents… 😉

          • LC April 24, 2017 at 8:07 am

            Haha, I guess it’s just not something my friends or family seem to say! Maybe it’s just NSW then – who knows!

  • Reply Lisa Michele Burns April 22, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    LOVE this! My favourite is trying to fit as many of these words as I can into one sentence haha. Bloody brilliant!

    • Reply LC April 23, 2017 at 3:54 am

      Ha! There’s a challenge and a half…

  • Reply Sara April 22, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    When I was just in Australia I could never understand what people meant by ‘avro’. Now I know! Definitely an essential read for anyone who is planning on going to Australia soon.

    • Reply LC April 23, 2017 at 3:33 am

      Ha! Apologies on behalf of my countrypeople for the confusion 😉

  • Reply Laura April 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Ahhh this takes me back home 💕. Dero is my favourite, I love to whip that one out to confuse the Brits. I also like Avo (avocado). Great post, thank you!

    • Reply LC April 24, 2017 at 1:28 am

      Have an avo! Good one. I’ll add it. Thanks for commenting, Laura!

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