Australian Slang Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Australian Slang

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The flag of Australia
Howz it gahn mate? Orrite ay? Fair nuff. Wanna brew?1

What was that? That was 'Strine', or Australian, a language and way of speaking that has confused both the indigenous and visiting people of the Great Land Down Under since its slow formation and development from the late 1700s to the present day. The eclectic mix of English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, German and Dutch colonists to Australia went about creating a dialect that differs not only from any other English-speaking nations of the world, but from state to state in the country itself.


Australian slang can be slight or it can be fully unintelligible gibberish, dependent on the speaker or the location. There is a tendency to alter vowel sounds – for example, 'ee' becomes 'oo':

  • really = roolly

and 'eye' becomes 'oi':

  • right = roit

Another linguistic foible of Aussies is to abbreviate long words:

  • bricklayer = brickie


  • myxomatosis2 = mixo

Some Australians speak in a manner that sounds like they've simply crammed all they wanted to say into one sentence, all at once:


while others lay on a questioning tone to everything, accompanied by the ever-present 'eh/ay':

Strewth mate, get us a beer eh?

The worst-case scenario is, of course, a linguistic cocktail of the lot, with local dialect and rhyming slang derivatives of cockney thrown in for good measure. This is most commonly found in small rural areas or those with limited human contact, like Goulburn.

Regardless of the various strains of 'strine' however, Australian slang has become stuff of legend over the years – particularly during the First and Second World Wars when Australian 'diggers' made their unique presence felt worldwide. But the language mostly grew from the rural areas of the country, then fed into the outer suburbs of cities, thriving around the 'barbies' (barbecues) and growing ever-stronger in the beer gardens and on the big and small screens thanks to the likes of Crocodile Dundee, Bazza McKenzie, Steve Irwin, Kath & Kim and Neighbours. It is revered as being a language 'of the people, for the people', but is equally encouraged and embraced or despised and avoided by Aussies, some of whom consider levels of 'strine' to be an indicator of social class.

An A-Z of 'Strine'

This is by no means a comprehensive list of Australian slang terms and phrases. It barely touches the surface, to be honest, but may help you when visiting to understand some of the local lingo and not drop yourself in it – so to speak. It is to be noted that there are many words concerning beer, drinking and throwing up. This is probably due to the similar assumption that Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow3. There's an awful lot of it where they live.


  • Aerial ping-pongAustralian Rules Football

  • Amber fluid/nectarbeer

  • Ankle-biter – small child

  • Apples, she'll be – It'll be all right; also 'she'll be right'

  • Arvo – afternoon

  • Aussie salute – brushing away flies (insects) with the hand


  • B & S Ball – Bachelors' and Spinsters' Ball; a party involving lots of beer, drunk men and women and the occasional stripper – usually held in rural towns; see Bush-bash

  • Banana bender – a resident of Queensland

  • Barbie – barbecue, not to be confused with a child's doll

  • Barker's egg – Dog droppings

  • Barrack – to cheer for (sporting team or player)

  • Battler – someone working hard and only just making a living

  • Beaut, beauty – great, fantastic; pronounced bewt or bewdy

  • Big girl's blouse – a term for a nervous/scared person

  • Bingle – a minor motor vehicle accident

  • Bitza – dog of multiple breeds

  • Bloke – a man

  • Blowie – fly (insect)

  • Bludger – lazy person, 'dole bludger'

  • Blue – fight

  • Bluey – traffic ticket, redhead, cattle dog

  • Bodgy – of inferior quality

  • Bogan – someone who wears flanellette shirts, tight black jeans and moccasins, sports a 'mullet' and smokes cheap cigarettes; see also Bludger

  • Bondi cigar – A beach phenomenon; see Brown-eyed mullet

  • Bonzer – great

  • Booze-bus – police vehicle used for catching drink-drivers

  • Boozer – a pub

  • Bottle-oliquor shop

  • Brass razoo, he hasn't got a – no money

  • Brekkie – breakfast

  • Brown-eyed mullet – floating fæcal matter in the sea

  • Buckley's, Buckley's chance – no chance

  • Budgie smugglers – men's bathing costume, 'speedos'

  • Bush-bash – long, competitive race or party in the bush

  • Bush telly – a campfire


  • Cactus – dead, not working; see also Kark it

  • Chock-a-block – full, 'the place was chock-a-block'

  • Chook – a chicken

  • Chunder – vomit

  • Chuck a spazz – be very, very upset, 'no need to chuck a spazz'

  • Cleanskin – bottle of wine without a label

  • Clucky – feeling broody or maternal

  • Cobber – friend, mate

  • Coo-ee – a shouted yell to attract attention

  • Corker – something excellent. A good batting stroke in cricket might be referred to as 'a corker of a shot'

  • Crack a fat – get an erection

  • Crack onto – to hit on someone; pursue someone romantically

  • Cranky – in a bad mood, angry

  • Cream – defeat by a large margin, usually in reference to sporting events

  • Crook – sick, or badly made

  • Crow eater – a resident of South Australia

  • Cubby house – small house in the garden, also known as a 'Wendy House'

  • Cut lunch – sandwiches

  • Cut snake, mad as a – very angry


  • Dag – a nerd or dork; see Duffer, also 'dill'

  • Dackstrousers, also strides or under-dacks; see also Grundies

  • Dead-set – true

  • Dinkum, fair dinkum – real or genuine, 'I'm a dinkum Aussie'; 'is he fair dinkum?'

  • Divvy van – Police vehicle used for transporting criminals. Named after the protective 'division' between the driver and the criminals

  • Dob in – inform on somebody. Hence dobber, an informant, 'stoolie'

  • Dog's eye – a meat pie

  • Donger – male sex organ, 'dry as a dead dingo's donger'; pronounced dong-ar

  • Doonaduvet, quilt

  • Drongo – a stupid person. After the native heron that is known to lose balance easily

  • Duffer – affectionate term for someone who has made an error, 'ah, ya duffer!'

  • Dunny budgie – blowfly


  • Earbashing – nagging, non-stop chatter

  • Esky – large insulated food/drink container for picnics, barbecues, etc


  • Face, off one's – drunk, 'He was off his face at the pub'

  • Fag – a cigarette, not to be confused with the American slang term for homosexual; also 'cancer stick'

  • Fair go – a chance, 'give a bloke a fair go'

  • Fairy floss – candy floss, cotton candy

  • Fanny – vagina, not to be confused with the American slang for buttocks

  • FIGJAM – Acronym, term for people who have a high opinion of themselves, "F... I'm Good, Just Ask Me"

  • Five-finger discount – shoplifting

  • Flake – shark meat (usually sold battered in fish & chip shops)

  • Fossick – search, rummage, 'fossicking through the undie drawers'

  • Frangercondom, not to be confused with Durex which in Australia is a brand of sellotape – not a recommended form of contraception

  • Furphy – false or unreliable rumour


  • G'day! – hello!

  • Galah – fool, silly person. After the native bird of the same name, because of its antics and the noise it makes

  • Give it a burl – try it, have a go

  • Gobful, give a – to abuse, usually justifiably, 'the galah next door was having a blue with his missus, so I went round and gave him a gobful'

  • Gobsmacked – surprised, astounded

  • Going off – used of social gathering that is a lot of fun, 'the place was really going off'

  • Good on ya – good for you; well done

  • Goog, as full as a – drunk

  • Goon – cheap box wine

  • Grog – liquor, beer, 'bring your own grog, ya bludger'

  • Grouse – great, terrific

  • Grundies – undies, underwear (from Reg Grundy, a television personality)


  • Heaps – a lot, 'thanks heaps'; '(s)he earned heaps of money', etc

  • Hooly dooley! – an exclamation of surprise, 'Good heavens!', 'My goodness!', 'Good grief!' or similar

  • Hoon – hooligan

  • Hooroo – goodbye


  • Icy pole – popsicle, ice cream

  • Idiot box – television


  • Jackaroo – a male station hand

  • Jillaroo – a female station hand

  • Jug – electric kettle or large container of beer


  • Kangaroos loose in the top paddock – Crazy, mad, insane

  • Kark it – as for Cactus

  • Ken Oath! – that's certainly true

  • Knock – to criticise


  • Larrikin – a bloke who is always enjoying himself, harmless prankster

  • Lend of, to have a – to take advantage of somebody's gullibility, to have someone on, '(s)he's having a lend of you'

  • Liquid laugh – to vomit

  • Lizard drinking, flat out like a – busy

  • Lob in – drop in to see someone

  • Lolliessweets, candy

  • Longneck – 750ml bottle of beer in South Australia and Victoria

  • Lunch, who opened their? – who farted?


  • Mappa Tassie – map of Tasmania, a woman's pubic area

  • Mate – buddy, friend

  • Mexican – a resident of Victoria, referring to being south of the border from New South Wales

  • Middy – 285ml beer glass in New South Wales

  • Milk bar – shop that sells take-away food, newspapers and other consumables

  • Mongrel – despicable person

  • Moolah – money, or 'dosh'

  • Mozziemosquito

  • Mug – friendly insult, 'have a go, ya mug'; gullible person


  • No worries! – expression of forgiveness or reassurance, usually accompanied by the word 'mate'

  • Nuddy, in thenaked

  • Nun's nasty, as dry as a – in need of a drink


  • Ocker – an unsophisticated person


  • Pash – a long, passionate kiss; can also lead to 'pash-rash' – a redness around the mouth and lips caused by kissing bestubbled men

  • Perve – looking lustfully at the opposite sex

  • Piker – someone who doesn't want to fit in with others socially, leaves parties early

  • Piss up a rope, go – the equivalent of the English 'sling your hook', go away

  • Plonk – inexpensive wine

  • Porky – lie (pork pie = lie)

  • Pot – 285ml beer glass in Queensland and Victoria

  • Pull your head in – stop talking, you're embarrassing yourself


  • Quid, not the full – low IQ


  • Rack off – get lost, 'rack off hairy legs!'

  • Raw prawn, come the – to be generally disagreeable

  • Reckon – absolutely

  • Ridgy-didge – original, genuine

  • Rip snorter – great, 'it was a rip snorter of a party'

  • Rippa, you little – exclamation of delight or as a reaction to good news

  • Rock up – to turn up, to arrive, 'we rocked up at their house'

  • Rollie – a cigarette that you roll yourself

  • Root – synonym for the 'f' word, 'I'm rooted'; 'this washing machine is rooted'; '(s)he's a good root'. A very useful word in polite company

  • Root-rat – somebody who is constantly looking for sex

  • Rotten – drunk, 'I went out last night and got rotten'


  • Sandgroper – a resident of Western Australia

  • Sanger – a sandwich; pronounced sang-ah

  • Schooner – large beer glass in Queensland; medium beer glass in South Australia

  • Screamer – party lover; 'two pot screamer', ie somebody who gets drunk on very little alcohol

  • Servo – petrol/gas station

  • Shark biscuit – somebody new to surfing

  • Sheila – a woman; pronounced she-lar

  • Slab – a carton of 24 bottles or cans of beer

  • Snag – a sausage

  • Sprung – caught doing something wrong

  • Spunk – a good-looking person (of either sex); also 'hornbag'

  • Stickybeak – nosy person

  • Stoked – very pleased

  • Stonkered – drunk

  • Strewth – exclamation; mild oath

  • Stubbie – a 375ml beer bottle, or men's shorts


  • Technicolor yawn – vomit

  • Textas – felt-tip pens, coloured markers

  • Thongs – inexpensive rubber backless sandals, flip-flops; not to be confused with skimpy underwear

  • Tinny – can of beer or a small aluminium boat/dinghy

  • Togs – swimsuit

  • Too right – definitely

  • Trackie dacks – tracksuit pants

  • True blue – patriotic

  • Tucker – food; 'bush tucker' being food obtained in the outback like witchety grubs and quandongs

  • Turps, hit the – go on a drinking binge


  • Ute – utility vehicle, pickup truck


  • VB – a popular lager

  • Veggies – vegetables; pronounced vej-eez

  • Veg out – relax; pronounced vej-owt


  • Waggin' school – playing truant

  • Wancah – idiot; somebody who talks drivel; somebody with whom you have little patience; in reference to someone who frequently masturbates – the word is often accompanied by appropriate hand movements

  • Whinge – complain

  • Willy-willy – small windstorm common in dry, outback areas

  • White pointers – topless (female) sunbathers

  • Wobbly – excitable behaviour, 'I didn't get the ankle-biter any lollies and he threw a wobbly'

  • Wombat – somebody who eats, roots and leaves. After the native animal

  • Whoop-Whoop – name for any small, unimportant town in the middle of nowhere

  • Wuss – coward, nervous person or animal; pronounced like puss


  • XXXX – pronounced Four-Ex, a brand of lager made in Queensland


  • Yabbie – inland freshwater crayfish

  • Yakka – work, 'crikey, this is hard yakka'; also 'bust a gut'

  • Yewy – U-turn in traffic, 'chuck a yewy at the lights'

  • Yob/Yobbo – an uncouth person (UK version is 'chav')


  • Zonked – extreme fatigue, also 'knackered'

A Note On Swearing

It is very common for Australians to emphasise or give more expression to their speaking by interjecting every sentence with a swear word, mostly the 'f' word4. It can be off-putting, but eventually it happens so often you no longer hear it – like the ticking of a clock in the hall. The occasional dropping in of something even hardier, such as the 'c' word, means that the person speaking is really upset about something – this is usually heard directed at sporting officials, however.

1Roughly translated as 'How are you, my friend, are you all right? Good. Would you like a beer?2A disease affecting rabbits, the bane of many an Aussie farmer's life.3Which, in fact, they don't.4This can change from state to state also, with those along the West Coast favouring the word 'bugger', while those on the East Coast using utilising various assortments of the 'f' word.

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