Australia

59 Australian Words and Phrases That Confuse Tourists — An Outsider’s Guide to Australian Slang

Keen to understand Australian slang? Well, I’m not here to f*** with spiders.

“Don’t walk too close to the trees,” an Australian friend once told me, when I visited Perth a couple of years ago. “You might be attacked by drop bears.”

I remember staring at him incredulously. It was one of the many WTF moments I had in Australia. Much to his glee, I took his little warning a tad bit too seriously. It’s common knowledge Australia is home to deadly animals and insects that want to kill you — and I don’t want to die by ‘drop bears’! But, what even are they?

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

This. THIS is a drop bear.

Of course, I felt silly when he finally let me in on the joke. Sadly, that did little to help me understand other Aussie slang words coming out of locals’ mouths. What’s so natural for them is so foreign to me, much like how Singlish is to anyone who’s not Singaporean.

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Even postcards take it upon themselves to translate Australian slang.

However, one thing I did learn is that Australians love to shorten words. It’s akin to how Singaporeans love to abbreviate everything (e.g. HDB, SMLJ, O$P$). Some Australian slang words are relatively easy to figure out: G’day is good day. Breakfast is brekkie. But other words? Sanger? Arvo? Pissfarting? What?

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

“You have no idea what’s coming out of my mouth, don’t you?” This guy asked me. He was right. I did not.

Like how Gen Z-ers and Millennials come up with new lingo almost every damn day (e.g. full send, sus, shooketh), trying to understand Australian slang is a curious and fun journey. To help you along, I’ve consulted the best resources available (i.e. Internet friends and Australian locals) to come up with this guide!

Aussie = Australia?

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

A typical misuse of the word “Aussie”.

Let’s start with the basics. Aussie refers to “Australian”. Many foreigners/non-Australians (myself included) mistakenly think the word refers to Australia (the country). However, locals have informed me that’s incorrect.

So, to ask your colleague “How was Aussie?” is wrong. The correct usage would be, “I love Aussies! Very friendly bunch of people. But I don’t understand what they say, that’s why I need this Aussie slang guide!”

Straya

Short for Australia, the country. Go on, educate your colleague the next time they misuse the term “Aussie”.

Bag of fruit — not the NTUC kind 

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

A man’s formal suit. We don’t know how this one came about, but we love it. We love the bag of fruit that Renald has on.

I’m not here to f*** with spiders

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

If this doesn’t explain Aussie slang, I’m not sure what else will.

Essentially you’re saying, “Why else would I be here?”. Kind of like the Singaporean equivalent of “Then I come for what? For fun ah?”

Durry/Dart

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

$5 Coke with your ~$2 durry, mate? Photo credit: Newshub.nz

A cigarette. Not that you’ll need it when you’re in Australia because they’re bloody expensive. Pick another poison.

Pissfarting

To procrastinate, or do nothing productive (Like now).

Dunny/Thunder Box

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

A toilet. I don’t want to know why it’s a “Thunder Box”

Bin Chicken

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Photo credit: theconversation.com

An Australian white ibis (a type of bird) that’s common all over the country. They’re like the irritating Singaporean mynahs — digging in bins for food scraps, pooping everywhere, and being a nuisance in general.

The difference is that the bin chicken is a cultural icon of Australia. I mean, there are floats and merchandise of these birds!

Drop Bear

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Oh gosh, help. Photo credit: Mashable Asia

The vicious, bloodthirsty cousin of the cuddly koala. Its primary mode of attack is to drop from trees and attack unsuspecting victims, mainly tourists.

Good on ya

This can literally mean “good for you”. But if someone tells you this sarcastically, you likely f***ed something up. Well, good on ya. Like how my mum would say, “Orh bi good”.

Kangeroos loose in the top paddock

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Not one, but two with a few kangaroos loose.

Someone who’s acting crazy or wacky. Pretty much the Aussie version of someone who’s all “siao ah”!

Ken Oath

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Ken oath, four-day work week!

Short for f**ken oath. An enthusiastic yes, like you agree wholeheartedly with something. Similar to YAAAAASSSSS.

Knackered

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Poor knackered Isaac.

Exhausted. Yeah, we’ve all been there.

Chokkas

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

It’s absolutely chokkas in Santorini during the sunset.

An adjective that’s short for “chock a block”. Means very crowded, jammed with people and things.

I’m flat out like a lizard drinking

This phrase with a very disturbing imagery attached to it simply means that you’re very busy. Much like how a lizard flattens itself to drink water from the ground, you’re probably being squished by your workload.

Shoey

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

I really hope that’s a clean shoe, mate. Photo credit: Businessinsider.nz

An Aussie tradition where you drink an alcoholic beverage out of a shoe, supposedly for good luck. I hope they don’t have too many athlete’s feet over there.

Built like a brick shithouse

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

#Fitspo goals.

Used to refer to someone with a muscular body (usually male).

Shark Biscuit

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Right before the fall.

A beginner surfer. What a way to welcome the newbie.

Chuck a Sickie

To feign illness and call in sick to skip work. Basically, the Aussie version of taking MC/chao keng. Not wanting to go to work is a universal human experience, after all.

Macca’s

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

The holy grail of all things fast food.

Short for McDonald’s. Or, as we say it: “Mcnorner”, “Meh-doner” or “Let’s go maxxx!”

Buggered

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

When a whole five minutes at work feels like five hours.

Being tired, and wanting to go home. In other words — sian.

Bathers/Togs/Swimmers

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Get ready to dip in!

Swimming costume.

Sanger/Sango 

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

A sandwich.

Sook

An overly emotional person who complains a lot. Also known as a whinger (I’m sure we all know someone like that).

Thongs – not the underwear

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Photo credit: qt.com

Flip-flops, pluggers, or what we call slippers. The Aussie version of thongs isn’t to be confused with the underwear that gives you a permanent wedgie.

Chuck a U’-ey

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Was I supposed to turn left?

Make a U-turn. High probability of this happening when driving on Australian roads because you’re trying to avoid roadki— oh, missed the turn.

Rubbity-dub

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Cheers!

A pub. Confirm it’s some of you people’s favourite place to hang at.

Tucker

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Food. To use in a sentence to praise a dish, you can say “Bloody good tucker!” It’s basically the Aussie version of “WAH! This (food) damn shiok eh!”

Nah yeah / Yeah nah

Yes / No, respectively. Confused? Yeah nah.

Others

But: Something some Aussies add to the end of their sentence. For example, “We’re going to grab a drink, but.” Or “Not much going on today, hey.” Other variations include “hey” or “ay”. It’s somewhat similar to how Singaporeans end sentences with “one”.

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Photo credit: Foodbev.com

Bickie/Biccy: Biscuits.

Brocci: Broccoli, nature’s little edible tree.

Bloke: A man.

Bloomin’/Flamin’: Adjectives, or words used to exaggerate something. Such as, “Wow! That was bloomin’ impressive!” I suppose it’s the non-vulgar alternative to “bloody” or “f***in’”.

Bogan: Someone whose clothing, speech, and behaviour is unrefined and uncouth. Akin to “white trash”.

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

A Japanese bottle-O.

Bottle-O: A shop selling alcoholic beverages.

Cactus: Used to describe something or someone that’s “dead”, i.e. not functioning, broken, or finished.

Cheers: A way of saying hello, goodbye, and thank you. Also what you say before you and the squad down your drinks!

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Chockie/Choccy: Chocolate, the best thing ever.

Chookas: Means “Break a leg” or “all the best”. Used to wish a performer good luck. For example, “Chookas for the big night!”

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

“I’m going to try to hold it in” — Beh, 2019

Chunder: Vomit. Like what poor Clarence did in Vietnam.

Dag: A socially awkward person. You lor.

Devo: Devastated, or feeling a lot of shock and grief (i.e. when the guys see their favourite football team lose).

Loose: Drunk and out of control.

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Just rafting down the river with some mates, hey.

Mate: Friend. An alternative is “cobber”.

Shocking: Not ‘actual’ shocking, but it means the opposite. Like “shocking day” means it’s a great day.

Sheila: Refers to a girl or woman. Doubles as a lovely female name. It also happens to be the name of Jerome’s mum (hello Aunty Sheila!).

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Sunnies: Sunglasses.

Stubby/Tinnie: A can of beer. A six-pack is called a “slab”.

Veg-O: A vegetarian.

Chuck on: Turn on.

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Come on, guys. Rollercoasters aren’t that scary.

Chuck a wobbly: To overreact to something. (There seems to be a lot of chucking going on in Australia.)

Dirty bird: KFC.

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Just tapping away on my dog and bone. Photo credit: Gilles Lambert

Dog and bone: Phone.

Fair dinkum: To mean that something is honest and true. Can be used as a question or a statement. For example, “I spent AU$75 on chocolates today.” “Are you fair dinkum?”

How ya going: “How are you doing?”

I’ll fong ya: To hit someone with a thong (slipper). Asian parenting 101.

She’ll be right: Everything will be okay. Or, as we say it: DUN WORRY, IS’OK ONE.

around the world, general travel tips, 59 australian words and phrases that confuse tourists — an outsider’s guide to australian slang

Arvo: Afternoon, like “I’ll see you Sunday arvo!” It’s not short for avocado — that’s avo (“eh-vo”).

Know any more Aussie slang? Which one’s your favourite? Tell us in the comments below!


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