Visiting Australia? 100+ Australian slangs & pronunciations for you MATE!

Expat life
02 Jul 2023
10 mins read
Written by Team Instarem

Home to beaches and kangaroos, the starkly beautiful Outback and the iconic Sydney Opera House; Australia offers its residents a charming mix of natural beauty and cosmopolitan living environment. Its economy has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few decades and its world-class cities have low pollution levels and more advanced infrastructure systems than many other global cities. In short, the land Down Under is one of the world’s most urbanised and multicultural countries that offers current and potential expats a very good quality of life. 

 

If you’re moving to Australia or even planning to, good on ya, mate! By now you probably have all the information you need about things like visas, housing, food, the standard of living, etc. But what about the language? It’s English, alright, but with an Australian flavour to it.  

 

Every country in the world has its own unique take on a language, and Australia is no different. Australian English has so many interesting phrases and ‘colloquialisms’ (slang) that it can sometimes sound like a totally different language, especially to someone unfamiliar with its many quirks. 

 

So if you want to interact more comfortably with your colleagues or ‘mates’ and avoid making an embarrassing faux pas in a social setting or simply learn how to speak like local blokes or sheilas, buckle up and read on… 

 

You might also like to read: Moving to Canada? Here Are 75 Canadian English slangs & phrases you must know

Why Australian English is truly unique?

Like other multicultural societies such as Britain, the USA, New Zealand and Canada; English is one of the most commonly spoken languages in Australia.  

 

However, Australian English is more informal and humorous and owes much of its character to its history as a British penal colony. Due to the convict influence and a desire to develop a different linguistic tradition from the ‘mother country’, it shows a bias towards the: 

 

  • The invention of new terms: For example, the Aussie phrase “Do the Harry” means to disappear 
  • Application of visual imagery: The simile “mad as a cut snake” means to be very angry or upset 
  • Deception to conceal the true meaning of a term: For example, the term “ratbag” can be an endearment or an insult, depending upon the speaker’s tone and context of the conversation 

 

Australian English also tends to be humorous and uses it to indicate affection or invoke laughter even in formal settings such as government meetings or TV appearances! 

 

Australians also tend to shorten some words and sentences. Often, these ‘diminutives’ are formed by taking the first part of a word and substituting an a, o, ie or y sound for the rest of the word. For example, instead of saying “let’s have a barbeque this afternoon after the football game”, an Australian native may say “let’s have a barbie this arvo after footy”. And rather than saying “Carry an umbrella” an Australian would probably say “Carry a brolly mate!” 

People

Australian English Term 

Meaning 

Ankle Biter 

Child 

Bloke 

Man 

Bludger 

Lazy person, someone who doesn’t work 

Brickie 

Bricklayer 

Chalkie 

Teacher 

Chippy 

Carpenter 

Cobber 

Friend, companion 

Dag 

Unfashionable person

Garbo 

Garbage (rubbish) collector 

Goose 

Foolish person, clown (light-hearted or affectionate insult) 

Jackaroo (feminine equivalent jillaroo)

Male trainee manager at a cattle station;  Female trainee manager at a cattle station 

(A) loose cannon 

Someone with little or no self-control 

Ocker 

A person who is uncouth or boorish 

Pelican 

Foolish or idiotic person (often a light-hearted or affectionate insult similar to Goose) 

Postie 

Postman 

Rello 

Relative 

Sheila 

Woman 

Sparky 

Electrician 

Spunk 

Good-looking person 

Top bloke 

Good person 

Tosser 

A useless person 

Tradie 

Trader 

Truckie 

Truck driver 

Greetings & Exclamations

Australian English Term 

Meaning 

Ace! 

Very good! Excellent! 

Blimey 

 

Expressions of amazement or surprise 

Fair dinkum 

An exclamation that something is genuine or true. EgOf course I’m telling the truth!, Yeah, honestly! 

G’day 

G’day, mate 

Hello 

Give it a burl 

Give something a try 

Go on! 

I’m not convinced you know what you’re talking about 

Have a go, ya mug! 

Term to encourage someone to attempt something, especially if they’re unsure or not putting in a full effort 

Hooroo  

Goodbye 

How ya goin’ luv? 

I hope you’re well 

Nah, yeah 

Unsure Yes 

No worries (No drama )

Don’t worry about it, everything will turn out alright 

Onya bike 

Get lost, leave 

Keep your pants on 

Be patient! 

Put a sock in it! 

Shut up! 

Rack off!   

Get lost! 

Shut ya gob!  

Shut up! (Tell it to someone who cares)

Ta  

Thank you 

That’s really sick, mate!  

That’s awesome! 

Wanna cuppa? 

Do you want a cup of tea or coffee? 

Yeah, nah 

Unsure No 

You little ripper! 

Delighted exclamation in reaction to good news 

Food & drink

Australian English Term 

Meaning 

Bevy

Beer 

Avo 

Avocado 

Barbie 

Barbecue 

Boozer xxx 

Alcoholic 

Bottle-O/ Bottlo 

Liquor shop 

Brekkie/ Brekky 

Breakfast 

Chewiev 

Chewing gum 

Chokkie 

Chocolate 

Chook 

Chicken 

Tomato sauce 

Tomato ketchup 

Durry 

Tobacco, cigarette 

Esky 

Large insulated food and drink container for outdoor picnics or barbecues 

Goon 

Cheap Wine 

Grog 

Liquor 

Hungers 

Hungover 

Lollies 

Candy/sweets 

Maccas 

McDonald’s 

Milk bar 

Corner shop that sells takeaway food 

Roadie 

A ‘takeaway’ beer 

Sanger / Sanga 

Sandwich 

Sausage sizzle 

A sausage served with white bread and tomato ketchup 

Slab 

A carton of 24 cans (or bottles) of beer 

Smoko 

Quick smoke/food/coffee break at work 

Stubby 

A small bottle of beer 

The lot 

Australian burger with ‘everything’ in it such as meat, lettuce, egg, bacon, pineapple, onion, cheese, beetroot and tomato (or tomato sauce) 

Tinnie 

Can of beer 

Tucker 

Food 

Turps 

Alcohol 

Vegies 

Vegetables 

Activities, Leisure & Day-To-Day Life 

Australian English Term 

Meaning 

Ambo 

Ambulance or staff of ambulance

Arvo 

Afternoon 

Swimmers 

Swimming costume 

Brolly 

Umbrella 

Budgie smugglers 

Men’s bathing costume (speedos) 

Bush telly  

Campfire 

Bush 

The Outback or anywhere that isn’t in town 

Chemist
(also known as Pharmacy) 

Drugstore 

Daks 

Trousers 

Dunny 

Outside toilet 

Flanno 

A flannelette shirt 

Footie/
Footy 

Australian Rules Football 

Grundies 

Women’s underwear 

Mates rates 

Discounts for friends

Moolah 

Money 

Servo 

Service/petrol station 

Sunnies 

Sunglasses 

Thongs 

Casual backless sandals 

Togs 

Swimsuit 

Tracky dacks 

Sweat pants/tracksuit pants 

Ute 

Pickup truck (utility vehicle) 

 

You might also like to read: Visiting Ireland? Over 80 Slangs & Phrases You Might Want to Know

Descriptive Words & Similes

Australian English Term 

Meaning 

Big Smoke 

A big city such as Melbourne or Sydney 

Bloody ripper 

Really great, awesome 

Blind 

Drunk 

Blotto 

Drunk beyond the capacity to stand 

Bonzer 

Good

Buggered 

Tired 

Chockers / 
Choc A bloc 

Completely full, full to the brim 

Corker 

Excellent 

Crook 

Sick

Cut 

Angry or upset 

Deadset 

Definite, absolute 

Defo 

Definitely, for sure 

Devvo 

Devastated 

Dogged it 

Didn’t show up as expected 

Etch 

Suspicious 

Exy 

Expensive 

Festy 

Dirty or disgusting 

Flat chat 

Very busy 

Frothing 

Very keen 

Full 

Drunk 

Heaps 

Loads, lots, many 

It’s London to a brick 

It’s a certainty; 
There’s no doubt at all 

Knackered 

Tired 

Mad as a cut snake 

Crazy/eccentric or angry 

Mad as a gum tree full of galahs 

Completely crazy 

More than you can shake a stick at 

More than you can handle; 
More than you expected 

Ridgey-didge 

Legitimate 

Stoked 

Happy, pleased 

Sweet as 

Awesome 

True blue 

Authentically Australian 

Action Words

Australian English Term 

Meaning 

Aussie salute 

Brushing flies away with the hand 

Blowing the froth off a few 

Drinking alcohol 

Carrying on like a pork chop 

Someone acting silly or crazy;  Someone complaining or ranting 

Chuck a sickie 

Take a day off work or school feigning ill health 

Do a U-ey 

To make a U-turn in a vehicle 

Drink with the flies 

Drink alone 

Fair shake of the sauce bottle / 
Fair crack of the whip 

To give someone a fair chance at something 

Fix you up 

To pay back money owed 

(Give someone the) Flick 

To get rid of someone 

Go Walkabout 

To go missing; 
Go somewhere without warning 

Hit the frog and toad 

Hit the road 

(To be) On the cans 

Drinking alcohol 

She’ll be right 

Everything will work out; 
Everything will be fine, don’t worry 

(My) Shout 

To buy the next round of drinks 

Spit the dummy 

To throw a tantrum 

Suss it out 

To figure out a tricky situation 

Taking the piss 

To make fun of someone but not necessarily in a malicious way 

Yabber 

To talk a lot 

Distinctive Australian Pronunciations 

The Australian accent is unique and has diverged greatly from the original British (or English) accent. For people unfamiliar with the lingo and the accent, it can be a little difficult to understand, at least in the beginning. 

 

In general, Australian pronunciations are more similar to British English pronunciations than to American pronunciations. While American English puts the stress on the final syllable, Australian English and British English stress an earlier syllable. However, there are some cases where the Australian accent sounds closer to the American accent than to the British accent.  

 

And in some cases, even for words that are common to British, American and Australian English in usage and meaning (even if spellings are different), the pronunciations are often uniquely Australian. The table below gives some examples of all 3 types of words and accents: 

 

  • Similar pronunciation in Australian English and American English 
  • Similar pronunciation in Australian English and British English 
  • Completely different pronunciation in Australian English from both American and British English 

 

 Word 

Pronunciation 

 

Pronunciation 

 

Pronunciation 

 

American English 

British English 

Australian English 

Aunt 

Ant 

Aa-nt 

Aa-nt 

Butter 

Bu-dder 

Bu-tter 

Bu-dder 

Car 

Carrr 

Caa 

Caa: The end r is ‘non-rhotic’, i.e. not pronounced 

Caramel 

Caar-mel 

Ca-ra-mel 

Ca-ra-mel 

Cliché 

Cli-shay 

Clee-shay 

Clee-shay 

Data 

Day-ta 

Day-ta 

Daa-ta 

Daughter 

Dau-der 

Daugh-ter 

Daugh-ter: The hard t is pronounced and the end r is not pronounced 

Detail 

Di-tail 

Dee-tail 

Dee-tail 

Entrepreneur 

Ont-re-pre-nure 

Ont-re-pre-ner 

Ont-re-pre-ner 

Garage 

Ga-raage 

Gaa-rage 

Gaa-rage: Emphasis on the 1st syllable rather than the 2nd 

Good day 

Good day 

Good day 

G’day 

Hot 

Ha-at 

Hawt 

Hawt 

Leisure 

Lee-jher 

Ley-jher 

Ley-jher 

Letter 

Le-dderrr 

Le-tter 

Le-dder: The end r is not pronounced 

Mobile 

Mo-bil 

Mo-byle 

Mo-byle 

Niche 

Ni-tch 

Neesh 

Neesh 

Privacy 

Pry-vacy 

Pree-vacy 

Pry-vacy 

Salon 

Sa-lawn 

Saa-lon 

Saa-lon 

Today 

Today 

Today 

To-dieee 

Tomato 

To-may-to 

To-mah-to 

To-mah-to 

Vase 

Vay-se 

Vaa-se 

Vaa-se 

Vitamin 

Vy-tamin 

Vi-tamin 

Vy-tamin 

Water 

Wa-derrr 

Wa-ter 

Wa-der: The end r is not pronounced 

Yoghurt 

Yoh-gurt 

Yog-urt 

Yoh-gurtSilent h 

Interesting stuff, huh?

Australia is not only one of the most livable countries in the world, in terms of its healthcare, education, infrastructure, environment and culture, but the people of the world’s smallest continent are as big-hearted and vibrant as the nation they call home. 

 

However, getting used to the quirkiness of Australian English can be a challenge for new expats, especially if they don’t come from an English-speaking background. We hope that this guide helps you understand the Aussies better.

Before you go 

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