Australian Slang

I realize I was supposed to be talking about London this week, but the thought of watermarking all those pictures made me procrastinate, and I've made the executive decision to postpone that particular post to next week. 

Australians are famous for their slang. G'day mate, throw another shrimp on the barbie! Right? Err, not really. Only the tradies (see below for a definition) really say g'day often, and they call them prawns, not shrimp. Besides, why would you throw a prawn on the barbie when you can throw a steak on? 

I've taken the liberty of coming up with a few common phrases (with an example sentence in brackets if it's needed) that you might come across in Australia. It's worth noting that different people say different things, especially in different places in Australia. 

Arvo: Afternoon (I'll meet you this arvo.)
Bathers/togs: Swim suit (Queenslanders say togs, Australians from the south (Victoria, New South Wales) say bathers.)
Bikkie: Buiscut (cookie). 
Bogan: The Australian version of a red neck. The stereotype is a beer, flip flops, a steak and a fishing line. 
Bottle-o: Liquor store
Chook: A chicken
Dodgy: Something is sketchy or not legitimate. (My homework was so dodgy.)
Fair Dinkum: Legitimate (to be honest, I'm still trying to figure out how to use this in a sentence. It's the most confusing piece of Australian slang I've come across). 
Fairy floss: cotton candy
Footy: Australian football
Heaps: Lots (I have heaps of homework.)
Icy pole/Ice block: A popsicle or a freezy 
Lippy: Lipstick
Lollies: Candy
Maccas: McDonald's
Mozzie: Mosquito 
Rocking up: To show up for something. (I rocked up to the party last night.)

Salvos: The Salvation Army
Sickie: To take a sick day from work. (I'm going to have to take a sickie today.)
Sook: Someone who whines or complains, isn't tough. (My friend is such a sook.)
Tea: Dinner (Also a snack and lunch. There's morning tea (a morning snack), afternoon tea (lunch) and tea (supper). There's also actual tea, occasionally, but mostly meals go without tea. Because logic.)
Thongs: Flip flops
Tradies: A tradesman.
Uni: University (college for you Americans). 
To get up someone: To rebuke someone (the teacher got up me for ignoring my homework). 
Vinnies: St. Vincent de Paul, a thrift/charity store
Whinge: To complain (He whinged all afternoon). 

A note to writers: If you're writing an Australian character, I would suggest that you don't use too much slang, and make sure you get an Australian to read you book before you send it out into the world. 

What's your favourite piece of Australian slang? Do you have any slang from where you're from?


  1. I have never been able to understand why 'throw a shrimp on the barbie' is supposed to be Aussie slang. Seriously, who barbecues prawns regularly? I kinda get how to use 'Fair Dinkum' (sorta) but I've certainly never heard anyone actually use it! Not even bogans or tradies really seem to use it. And I have to admit, I was a bit surprised when people outside of Australia couldn't work out what a uni was. I didn't think it was that specialised a piece of slang! Love this post Victoria! Authentic Aussie slang at last!

    1. I know, right?!?! No one does that. I don't even know why you would barbecue a prawn, I'd cook it on the stove. Well, I like in Central Queensland, and we're quite bogan but even here it's not a common phrase. Whenever people use it it totally throws me, though. Yeah, you'd think uni would be pretty self-explanatory. Ha, thanks Imogen! Thanks for commenting.

  2. Rainbow Magic Fairy15 March 2016 at 18:59

    Thats great, you absolutely nailed it :) I am definitely one to use those terms on a daily basis ;) ha ha ha, here is one my favourites:

    Rock up: To just appear at a venue or event or scheduled time whenever, like just "showing" up for something, e.g. (this one needs a little context ;))

    M: "What time do you think the party will start"

    G: "I was just going to rock up later on"

    M: cool mate, see you this arvo

    I am definitely a bogan ;)

    Awesome Blog!

    1. I agree with the rainbow magic fairy. Definitely a bogan mate ;)

    2. Rainbow Magic Fairy16 March 2016 at 06:10

      Thanks mate ;) Cheers to that! :) ha ha ha

    3. Rainbow Magic Fairy16 March 2016 at 15:12

      Thanks mate! You're awesome too :)

  3. Great post, interesting how much of the everyday Australian vernacular constitutes as slang. :)

    1. Seriously, half the time I thought you guys were speaking another language. Thanks for commenting, Kate! I hope you're having a great time in Brisbane!!!

  4. That was interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Yes - genuine Aussie slang. I never realized just how different our language is, until I started writing to a few American pen-pals, and they weren't sure what I was talking about sometimes!

    Haha, 'fair dinkum.' :) A lot of the time it's just used as an exclamation, rather than to mean legitimate... Then there's 'crikey' as well...

    1. It's funny how the same language can be so different!

      Oh, really? IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW. I've been confused forever about that. Thanks for clearing it up! Thanks for commenting, Jessica!

  6. The thongs one is near and dear to my heart, because I have a friend from Australia, and we were chatting online when we were about twelve, thirteen, and she was talking about wearing thongs at school like it was no big deal and we were all like "OH MY GOSH WHY WOULD YOU WEAR A THONG TO SCHOOL YOU ARE LIKE SO YOUNG WHY???" and then she was like "I don't understand what the big deal is everyone wears thongs here." and we were like "WHAT???"

    Our miscommunication being that we thought she meant the underwear and she meant flip flops. XD Which is a lot more sensical and age-appropriate, lol. Ah, fun times.

    These are interesting! I think the only ones I've heard are fairy floss and uni (which is a UK thing, too, I believe)—oh, and whinge. I don't like that word at all. But I'm not Australian so I guess I don't have to worry about it, lol. Thanks for sharing these! Now I have learned something today. :)

    1. Hahaha, I've heard a few good stories about that particular piece of slang :) I can only imagine the utter confusion.

      Oh, I love the word whinge! It took me a while to get used to it, but now I love it. I don't actually use it often, unless I'm making fun of the Aussies :) However, Dad always uses it to annoy my sister, who insists that he can't pull off Australian slang.

      That's what I'm here for, teaching you random stuff that will only be useful if you come to Australia ;)

  7. A lot of Australian slang is similar to Irish slang (I guess a lot of it comes from british slang).

    We also use bikkie (well, not really but it's probably recognised bet yeah, we say biscuit).

    Dodgy, heaps, lollies, tea, uni and whinge (I didn't even know that one was slang).

    Well we also use 'bird' for girl. However, I rarely hear this.

    For some reason, 'meet' is used for kiss. "I met him yesterday."

    Grand: Good/okay "How are you?"

    "Sure, I'm grand."

    Do you have a bit of an Australian accent now?

    1. That would make a lot of sense, actually. I've never heard 'bird' before, that's definitely new, and 'meet' as well.

      I don't have an accent, but I find that I'll say some Australian words with an accent, like 'trolley'. It's a bit weird to hear myself with an accent, to be honest.

    2. OH! We use trolley as well! Do you call it a shopping cart?

    3. Yeah, usually it's just a cart. *shrugs*


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