Australian slang

G’day mate- a little Aussie lingo

Here in Australia we do speak “The Queen’s English”. However over time, we have also developed our own unique dialect which can be both amusing and frustrating to visitors.

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Understanding Australian Slang

Here in Australia we do speak “The Queen’s English”.  However over time, we have also developed our own unique dialect which can be both amusing and frustrating to visitors. Understanding the “Aussie Lingo” must be downright confusing for tourists.

While not all Aussies will speak full on “Strine” we all have sprinklings of the vernacular in our day to day conversations (or convos).

Not only do we tend to shorten every word and then put either an “O” or an “ie” on the end. We are also very fond of nicknames, and some odd words and phrases have crept into the Aussie dialect over the years.

Oh, and we also run our words together such as...”G’daymate Owzitgoin?

Below I’ve taken a lighthearted look at some of the common words and phrases you will hear socially in Australia, together with a few local customs that may help you to avoid “making a right galah of yourself” when visiting “Down Under”.

Food: (Also known as tucker or grub)

Bangers Sausages, usually served with mash – mashed potato

Barbie   Barbecue

grilling sausages
Snags on the Barbie Photo by Kaboompics .com on

Bikkie biscuit

Brekky breakfast

Esky: You will take one if these portable ice boxes to a barbie to keep the drinks cold

Grubs up dinner is served

Nibblies  Pre dinner snack – chips, cheese and bikkies or dip, nuts.

Parmy chicken parmiagana

Sanger sandwich

Schnitty chicken schnitzel

Smoko tea break

Snags sausages

Spud potato

Cultural notes: If invited to a barbie, they are usually “BYO” meaning you are required  to bring either a bottle of wine, or a six pack of beer. You should also “bring a plate”. This doesn’t mean your hostess is short of crockery. It means you need to bring either a dessert, salad or some “nibblies”.  Something from the Woolies Fridge is fine.


Bundy Bundaberg rum

alcohol drink glass beer
A Schooner of BeerPhoto by Pixabay

Cab Sav Cabernet Sauvignon wine

Chardy Chardonnay

Coldie  cold beer

Cuppa cup of tea or coffee

Middie a small glass of beer

Sav Blanc Sauvignon blanc wine

Schoonera large glass of beer

Shandy Nanna’s drink lemonade with a dash of beer (or vice versa)

Six pack A package of beer

Slab A case of beer.

Stubby small bottle of beer* see double meanings below

Tinnie can of beer * see double meanings below

Alcoholic beverages are called grog, booze, turps or plonk. If you have too much you will become legless, or smashed

Cultural note: If you are drinking with a group be prepared to “shout”. This is an Australian custom whereby you take it in turns to buy a round of drinks for the rest of the table. If you habitually fail to participate you will get the label “wouldn’t shout if a shark bit him”, which isn’t a good thing.


photography of a girl s feet near flip flops
Thongs are the national Aussie footwear Photo by bruce mars

Cossies Swimsuit – depending on state

Budgie smugglers – Mens speedos (bathing costume) DON’T. Just don’t. They are only culturally acceptable worn under boardies.

Boardies: Shorts worn for swimming

Cardy Cardigan

Dacks trousers

Hoodie:   Tracksuit top with a hood

Stubbies Work shorts *see double meanings

Swimmers Swimsuit – depending on state

Thongs Flip flops to the rest of the world

TogsSwimsuit – depending on state

Trackie dacks  Tracksuit pants

Cultural notes: See “Budgie Smugglers”. Aussies are very laid back when it comes to dress except for these.


Maccas Macdonalds hamburger chain

food dinner lunch unhealthy
Photo by Robin Stickel on

Bowlo The local bowling club

Servo The local services club * see double meanings

Bottlo:  Take away alcohol shop

Cop shop Police station

Woolies Woolworths supermarket

Cultural notes: Our local Bowling, sporting and services clubs are usually the hub of local social activity. They  have a bar, a bistro where you can get some “good Aussie Tucker” and a range of entertainment.

The Ode. If you are at a local Services Club, it is a memorial to our war veterans. At sunset (or usually around 5pm) all the lights will go out, and you will be required immediately stand still for one minute’s silence as a sign of respect while “The Ode”, a poem of remembrance is read. There are few things ruder you can do in Australia than fail to stand silently for The Ode.

At the clubs or pubs you may well play the “pokies” – poker machines.

Chook raffle– yes we do have regular raffles or lotteries at the pub or “the Bowlo” for trays of meat, chickens and in the run up to Christmas, hams and turkeys.

Double meanings:

Like any language, in Australia words have multiple meanings depending on context. Some common ones you will hear are:

white boat
One example of a “tinnie” Photo by Jess Watters

Bird Winged creature, female or an obscene gesture

Galah A bird or an idiot

Servo: The petrol station or the local Services Club

Stubbies: Either a pack of small beer bottles or a pair of work shorts

Tinnie: Either a can of beer or a small boat

Place names

Australians abbreviate everything, including place names which must become very confusing for visitors asking directions. You need to be very specific. Also with distances. “Down the road” could be 100 kilometres away.

If you are booking an Australian holiday, bear in mind that we were originally very unoriginal with our place names. There can be towns with the same name in a number of states so make sure you specify. For example you don’t want to attempt to check into your accommodation in Burwood, Sydney to find you actually booked in Burwood Melbourne.

road red street sign
“Woop Woop” and “Backa Bourke” would both look like this Photo by Stokpic

If we are in proximity to anywhere with the suffix “Bay” (eg Bateman’s Bay our nearest large shopping complex) it will be known as “The Bay”.  Similarly, Mount anything will be known as “The Mount” and anywhere with the prefix Port will be referred to as “Port”

Condo is not short for a smart modern townhouse, but the central western outback town of Condobolin.

Locally we abbreviate Bermagui to “Bermi”, Wollongong is known as “The Gong” and Coffs Harbour is known as “Coffs”. The list is as endless as the number of Aussie towns.

The names “Woop Woop” and “Backa Bourke” are also given to any remote town or place.  In the city it can also refer to outlying suburbs (“the burbs”)

“Up the Creek” is not a place you want to be, particularly if you are “without a paddle” as this means you are in a spot of bother.

Personal Names

Aussies call everyone by their nickname and they can sometimes be very confusing. Peter Smith will likely be known as “Smithy” and Robert Jones “Jonesy”. However, you will also come across names such as “Chook” or “Ranga” that make absolutely no sense. Some common tags we give our relatives and acquaintances are:

Better half     Spouse

Missus          wife

Old man/girl  spouse

Oldies   Parents

Rellos    Relatives in general

Yobbo   Uncouth person

Bloke   Man

Sheila  Woman

Mate  Friend or new acquaintance.

Cultural note: “Mate” may be for either “you are my friend” or “I don’t know your name but I want to be friendly”.  Depending on context it can also be a warning.

When showing a German visitor around Bermi, a jetskiing yobbo started doing burnouts at the marina.  Meaning he was driving very fast, causing giant waves to bump multi million dollar yachts against the dockside.

The response from one of the yacht owners on shore went along the lines of “Oy, Mate!”, “Listen here Mate!” “Pull yer ‘ead in Mate”, “I’m warning you Mate”… this context the term “mate” did not mean they wanted to have a friendly conversation. Make sure you listen for the context.

Names based on location

Aussies also name people based upon their location. The most common of these are:

Aussie  Australian

Banana bender Queenslander

australia traveling travelling travel
Photo by Catarina Sousa on

Cockie : farmer

Crow eater: South Australia

Sandgroper West Australian

Kiwi   New Zealander

Pom   Englishman

Yank  American


G’day     Hello

G’day owyagoin  Hello, how are you today.

Hoo Roo  Goodbye, see you soon

Ta   Thank you

She’s good   No thank you

Seeya  See you later


animal australia avian beak
Photo by Pixabay on

Blowie  Blowfly

Joe Blake  Snake

Kooka  Kookaburra

Mozzie  Mosquito

Roo    Kangaroo

Kingie  Kingfish

Flattie  Flathead (fish)

Note: We’ve all seen the cutesy pics of our soft and cuddly wildlife. If you want to pat a roo or a koala, stick to a wildlife sanctuary. In the wild the can be extremely unfriendly.

General words and phrases

A few roos loose in the top paddock/A few sangers short of a picnic/ A few stubbies short of a six pack/ not the full quid: Not very bright

Ants pants    The very best

Arvo  Afternoon

blue house
Photo by Jean Papillon on

Beat around the bush    Get to the point

Beats me I don’t know

Bewdi    Beautiful, very good

Bonza      Really good

Bludge   do nothing

Blue   to have a fight

Buckleys No chance, not very likely

Bung on   To make a scene, exaggerate or overact

Charge like a wounded bull  Very expensive, overpriced

Chock a block   Full

Chuck a wobbly    Have a tantrum or complain vocally

Ciggie cigarette

Cactus    Not good, broken

Crikey     See strewth

Crook    Sick or not good

Dinki Di     Genuine

Do your block   To yell, or get angry

Duck’s guts    see Ants Pants

Dunno I don’t know

Dunny  lavatory

Durrie see ciggie

Fair dinkum Really, or truly, depending upon context

Fodoty  Either Rugby League (league) or AFL football.

Jack of it    Had enough, fed up

Knackered  Very tired

Knock of    Finish for the day, or steal, depending on context

Mates Rates Discount price

Prang Road accident

Put a sock in it   Be quiet

Semi  Semi articulated truck

Strewth    Oh dear

Ute  Utility/ pick up truck

You Beaut   Very good

Hope you have enjoyed learning a little “Aussie Lingo”. Don’t be afraid to say G’day mate next time you duck into the bowlo for a schooner.

Read Also : Bonjour Bitte and Grazie
“Down the Lachlan Years Ago”
Utes in the Paddock

G'Day mate - a little Aussie Lingo
Article Name
G'Day mate - a little Aussie Lingo
Alighthearted look at some of the common words and phrases you will hear socially in Australia, together with a few local customs that may help you to avoid "making a right galah of yourself" when visiting "Down Under".
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Empty Nesters Travel Insights
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