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-pong – Australian Rules Football
Amber fluid/nectar – beer
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-o – liquor 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
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'
Dacks – trousers, 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
Doona – duvet, 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'
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'
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
Lollies – sweets, 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
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'
Mozzie – mosquito
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 the – naked
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
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
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.