Nature & Soft Adventure Tours
Australia, New Zealand & Pacific tours and travel
OF AUSTRALIAN LANGUAGE
is the official Australian language, spoken in varying degrees throughout
the land. City dwellers tend to be less distinct, and country dwellers
more so; there's also a north-south cline as well. Australian's millions
of immigrants, and their children, have added their own rich variations.
Many Australian words and phrases have their own meaning, and others
have different meanings than in other countries. These differences
can be subtle, with no real problems encountered in their use, or
major, and incorrect use will get you a suprised look at best or perhaps
an invitation to "step outside and continue this" at worst.
This list is by no means exhaustive, is an ongoing project, and we'll
be continuing to add words as they crop up and we get time. Contributions
are welcome. As we try to be thorough, you might want to run through
this yourself before letting the littlies at it.
First and foremost, out of order but important to know. In the US
fanny is a commonly used word for backside; in Australia
the equivalent word is bum, as in "he kicked him in the bum".
Fanny is not an acceptable word in Australia or New Zealand
- it refers to the same general region of the female body, at the
top end of the legs, but at the front, not the back! Fanny-packs
are bumbags. Be warned.
Secondly, as elsewhere, words go out
of fashion. Unfortunately, some traditional Australian words have
gone this route, and cobber and sheila are two such
virtual extinctions. They just aren't used any more, despite what
some of the tourist guidebooks might say.
Rhyming slang, derived from the cockney
dialect, is still common enough in Australia, so if a phrase seems
completely out of context, try thinking of what would make sense,
and rhymes with the last word of the weird phrase. So, if you're all
dressed up and you're told nice bag of fruit, it means nice
suit. Australians are adept at this, and phrases are often made
up on the spot; so even if it's new, the meaning will be clear. What
makes this more difficult is when the phrase is abbreviated, and loses
all reasonable meaning. Frog and toad is the road, so someone may
say "well, time to hit the old frog and toad." Clear enough
(!). But it can be abbreviated, so the statement may be "time
to hit the old froggan." Not so easy. But look on the bright
side - they could be speaking Urdu.
use swear words in various ways. One, the ubiquitous bloody,
is not really a swear word once you are an adult. It is for kids,
especially around their parents. It's used for emphasis, either good
or bad - "bloody hell," or "bloody good job mate."
But like all slang, it's best not to try it until you are really comfortable
with its use. Another more difficult word is bastard. Usually offensive,
it can also be used as a term of endearment - the context and how
it's spoken shoud tell you. Incorrect use could lead to a major blue,
so stay away from it is the best advice. Bugger is a milder form of
the same, and more often used as a term of endearment " silly
old bugger," said sweetly. It can also be used a a verb. See
here for an example of beautiful use; this
was a Toyota ad in Australia. For further examples of Australian
this ad (note "sheepshagger" in ad, see "shag"
also in non-existent part of dictionary so far. Ask someone in Australia
when you're there.
As you will see below, Australians generally shorten long words, and
lengthen short ones. So chocolate becomes chokkie, and
Jim McDonald becomes Mac, but then down the road Mac become Macca.
aerial pingpong - Australian Rules football (derogatory,
usually by Queenslanders or New South Welshman who play rugby, poor
amber fluid - beer
ankle-biter - child
arse - backside, is in American "ass." Hence "arsehole",
an unpleasant person
arvo - afternoon
aussie - Australian. Pronounced ozzie, not with with the
aussie salute - using your hand to brush flies away from
back of Bourke, back of beyond,
also past or beyond the black stump - far away, with sense
of way out in the outback
bail - leave before others do (also combined with out
for the same meaning)
banana bender - Queenslander
barbie - barbecue. Word of warning. Shrimp are prawns in Australia.
No Australian has ever thrown a shrimp on the barbie
barney - dispute or argument, usually a vehement one
barrack - cheer for. (Important warning here - see root
further on.) It also has the standard meaning of a military housing
bastard - often used as a term of endearment, if you are
familiar with the person - "silly old bastard"
Not a term of endearment when combined with a harsher adjective
such as "mean bastard". Best not to use until
you become very fluent in strine and mateship, as the inflection also
bathers - swimming costume (see also cossie, togs, budgie
battler - working class person alwasy struggling to make ends
meet. Can be term of admiration - "a real battler."
Antonym: tall poppy
bewdy - from beauty, as in "she's a bewdy",
meaning it's ("she" is general term for "it")
a very good one"
big-noting - bragging
bickie (also bikkie)- 1. cookie. Derived from biscuit,
which in Australia means any sort of cookie or cracker, sweet or salty
2. money. "this'll be worth big bickies one
day, you'll see"
billabong - cut-off ox-bow loop of a river. May only be a billabong
in the dry season
billy - classically a large tin can, with or without a lid, used
to boil water on the campfire. Also used when advising that you are
going to heat water for a cup of tea, regardless of the appliance
used - "I'll just nip in and put the billy on."
bingle - minor car accident. usually results in a dint (dent)
bitumen - not slang, but used instead of asphalt - "turn
left where the bitumen ends" Pronounced bitchumen
bitzer - mixed-breed dog
bloke - man
bloody - the classic aussie adjective. Used indiscriminantly
for emphasis. Not quite polite, but not a shocker either
bloody oath (or blood oath) - true story, mostly
followed by mate
blowie - blow fly
bludger - lazy person who relies on others for food, money,
to do their work, etc. Also an adjective - to bludge
blue - 1. a fight. Occasionally a verb - "they were
bluein' away all night - must've been on the turps" 2.
a mistake, when used in the phrase "made a blue"
bluey - 1. small pack carried originally by a swagman 2.
nick-name for a redhead, usually but not always male
blue-heeler - Australian cattle-dog. Also usually derogatory
term for the police in NSW
bodgey- inferior, of poor quality, dodgey. Also, back in
the 1950s a bodgie was a punk, or punk wannabee. Female form
bog in - eat with gusto - "They were really boggin'
in - fair fang merchants, they were", or start to eat -
"go on, don't hang around, bog in"
bog standard - standard, basic, the usual form of something
bogan - generally slack and unproductive person, usually
to be avoided
bogged - have your vehicle stuck in mud or sand
bondi cigar - piece of feces
bonzer - very good "bonzer tucker your trouble and
strife made last night"
boomer - 1. large wave 2. large male
booze - alcohol. Also boozer, pub, and booze
bus - police vehicle used at random breath tests
bottle shop - liquor shop (off-licence in UK)
brass razoo - used in " he hasn't go a brass razoo"
meaning he's very poor
brekkie - breakfast
Brizzie (more lately Brisvegas (they wish!)) - Brisbane
brown-eyed mullet - piece of feces
brumby - wild horse, mustang
buckley's, buckley's chance - no hope. Originally from a
prominent Melbourne department store, Buckley's and Nunn. Hence the
saying: he has two chances, buckley's and none. Also may
refer to a convict escapee who lived in the wild for years in Victoria,
budgie smugglers - men's bathing
costume, most typically the small, tight Speedos kind
bullbar - metal bars attched to front of a vehicle to fend
off animals - also roo bar
bundy - rum made in Bundaberg, Queensland, and often used
in lieu of "rum". "Gimme a couple of bundies and
coke, mate. Ta."
bunyip - mythical non-humanoid (so not like Bigfoot, eg)
creature found in the outback
bush - 1. the outback, or just rural Australia generally.
"well, it's Sydney or the bush for me" or "we're
going bush for the weekend." Also a general term for forest
bush bash - driving off road; also a comptetive off-road
or back road race
bush oyster - snot
bush telly - a campfire
bush telegraph - mixture of word of mouth and gossip
bush tucker - food gathered from the wild
bushie - someone who lives in the bush, usually either in
a remote area or under hard conditions; usually by themselves but
can be a couple. Can also be a general term for country people
bushranger - outlaw or highwayman. Also used to describe
anyone who takes your money unscrupulously, from shops to politicians,
in the sense of thieves
BYO, BYOG - Bring Your Own (Grog) - a restaurant or party
where you take your own alcohol
cactus - dead, not working. "Can you fix it?' "No,
she's cactus, mate."
captain cook - look. "Let's have a bit of a captain
cook." also abbreviated to "captain's". Only
a noun, never a verb.
cark - die. "She's carked it, mate, or "she's
chook - chicken. Also a term of endearment and nick-name.
Chrissie - Christmas
chuck - vomit (often with up." Also to do -
Chuck a wheelie, chuck a U-ey - spin your car's
wheels, or do a u-turn. Also chuck a sickie - take the day
off work pretending to be ill.
chunder - vomit. Australians have many, many terms for this,
like Eskimos and snow, which makes you wonder
clacker - anus
clayton's - fake. From a Clayton's Tonic, drink popular with
the abstinence set back in the thirties
click - kilometer (kilometre) "only 20 clicks to go"
clucky - maternal. "Now Madge, don't go all clucky
on me just because your sister had a baby"
(the) coathanger - (the) Sydney Harbour Bridge
cobber - mate or friend. Rarely used now, but still heard
about. Don't try to be "Australian" by using it, or you'll
stand out like a dog's balls."
cockie - 1. cockatoo 2. cockroach 3.
boss of a station (sheep or cattle ranch) as in "boss cockie".
Cockatoos post one or more lookouts when the flock descends to
the ground to feed; it's the lookout's job to warn of danger. His
squawking gets everyone moving. So "cockatoo" is
also used to mean lookout, especially during a game of illegal two-up,
where the cockatoo keeps watch for the traps.
coldie, cold one - a beer
come a gutser - have an accident or make a reasonably serious
cooee - traditional bush call to locate another person, or
be located. Hence, not within, or within, cooee
of something -not close, or close
corker - excellent. Noun or adjective
cozzie - swimming costume (mostly NSW; in Victoria and Queensland
the term is togs)
cranky - anything from petulant to angry
cream - defeat by a lot (verb)
crook - sick, or faulty
crow eater - person from South Australia
cut lunch - bag lunch
- a sardonic or funny person, but whose humour is a little off kilter.
A wag is a straight-out funny person. Like bastard and bugger,
the word has an unpleasant ancestry. The alternative, and original,
meaning, is hardened pellets of feces attached to the wool around
a sheep's anus
daks - trousers
damper - 1. unleavened bread made in the bush, but now also
leavened, and served in Australian Food restaurants. Can be made sweeter
with raisins and a little sugar. 2. act of toning down
"I reckoned I was in like Flynn with Madge until her old
man turned up and put a damper on things"
dead horse - tomato sauce (ketchup). Always put on a dog's
eye - meat pie - in Australia. Not essential on chips (fries)
as it is in the US
deadset - really, true, as in "You
dated Nicole Kidman?" "Yeah, deadset mate, true story."
digger - World War 1, then WW2 soldier, now a general term
dill - idiot
dingo's breakfast - eat nothing for breakfast, usually due
to no money. Typically comprised of a yawn, a leak (qv) and
a good look around
dinkum, fair dinkum - true, real(ly), genuine
dinky-di - from and means the same as dinkum
dipstick - loser, stupid person
dob (in) - inform on somebody. Hence dobber, a peson
who dobs someone in, especially as a habit
docket - a bill, receipt. Can also mean program
dog's balls, stands out like - definition unnecessary
dog's eye - meat pie
dole - government payment to the unemployed
dole bludger - person habitually on the dole and not wanting
donga - metal shed used as housing (not to be confused with
donger, a penis)
Down Under - Australia and New Zealand, but never used by
Australians or New Zealanders
drinking with the flies - drinking by yourself
drongo - dope, hopelessly ignorant or stupid person who seems
determined to stay that way
dropkick - 1. in football, a kick performed while running
by dropping the ball so it touches the ground and kicking it just
as it starts to bounce up. 2. in reference to a person, same as dipstick
drum - information, tip-off "I'll give you the drum
on this." The usual adjective applied to add weight is
straight, so "straight drum."
duchess - sideboard
duffer - 1. rustler 2. old male person
not in full possession of all his faculties, often also used as a
term of endearment:"he's a silly old duffer, but I love him
dummy, spit the - get very upset at something: "when
he rolled home drunk as a skunk at 2am his missus fair spat the dummy."
dunny - outside lavatory
dunny budgie : blowfly
durry - cigarette, especially a half-smoked butt tossed away.
You may see signs in men's restrooms (in an effort to keep urinals
unclogged): "Please don't throw durries in the toilet, it
makes them soggy and hard to light."
dux - top of the class, also valedictorian
earbasher - non-stop talker; also a verb earbash and noun
earbashing, often used in the sense of a punitive talking-to
esky - portable cooler (from brand name)
exe - (phonetic spelling as it's never written down) pricey, expensive
face, off his - drunk "He
was off his face by 9pm"
fair dinkum - see dinkum
fair go - a fair and reasonable chance "give a bloke
a fair go, mate, I only just got here"
fair suck of the sav(eloy)(qv), sausage, or sauce bottle
- an exhortation to give the person a chance - similar to "give
a bloke a fair go." Also used as an exclamation of amazement
fairy floss - cotton candy
feral - a hippie, originally one that lived rough in the
bush, without benefit of bathrooms or real housing, but now often
extended, usually by what would be considered the Australia equivalent
of rednecks, to any hippie-looking person who lives in non-conventional
communities and doesn't have a 9 to 5 job.
figjam - nickname for people who have a high opinion of themselves.
flake - fillets of shark's flesh mostly sold in fish &
chips shops especially in Victoria
flat out like a lizard drinking - very busy. This is an interesting
one, as the image is opposite of the meaning. "flat out,"
meaning busy, is pretty widespread in Britain-derived places, but
by adding the image of a lizard face down drinking doesn't suggest
speed; some also say like a lizard on a log, with even less relationship
flick - to give something or somebody the flick is to get
rid of it or him/her
footy - Australian Rules football
fossick - to prospect for gold or gems, and now especially
in tailings of old mines or opal mullock heaps. By extension looking
for anything especially with no specific goal, as is done at yard
sales, in old junk piles, etc. Also fossicker.
freckle - anus
Fremantle Doctor - the cooling afternoon breeze that arrives
in Perth from the direction of Fremantle on the coast
Freo - Fremantle in Western Australia; a popular weekend
afternoon outing destination for Perth people
fruit loop - a fool, also adjective and sometimes a noun
as loopy (also as see loopie, a tourist in some
full - drunk; also full as a boot
furphy - false or unreliable rumour or red herring
Sorry, only up
to here. As you can tell, there's a lot of words and I keep getting