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Australian slang words and phrases

50 Australian slang words and phrases that will have you talking like a local.
By · March 22, 2024
Australian slang words and phrases

A lighthearted guide 50 Australian slang words and phrases.

It’s a common misconception that all English speaking countries have the exact same vocabulary. Truth is, differences in culture and history mean that language can vary greatly between different countries and continents, and Australia is no exception.

If you’ve recently touched down in Australia chances are, you’ve already noticed some major differences in communication. Aussies are known for their laid-back, humorous nature and this is clear in their unique take on words, phrases and sayings.

But, don’t worry, we’re covering the top Australian slang words and phrases in this article so you’ll be talking like a local in no time.

Everyday Australian slang words

Ripper/ Ripsnorter

This is the first word in the list for a reason. Chances are you’ll use this word a lot during your time in Australia. Ripper or ripsnorter means awesome, amazing or fantastic.

Example: “It’s a bloody ripper mate.”

Fair Dinkum

If something is fair dinkum it means it is genuine or true. It can also be used as a question Example: Fair dinkum? Meaning: Is that true?

Bludger

A bludger is someone who is lazy or who avoids work.

Example: “He’s always taking time off work, he’s a bludger.”

Dunny

Dunny is the Aussie slang for the toilet.

Example: “I’m off to the dunny.” Meaning: I’m going to the toilet.

Hooroo

Pronounced: “oo roo”. Hooroo is a way of saying goodbye or see you later.

Crikey

Possibly one of the most well-known Aussie words thanks to international tv sensation and wildlife warrior, Steve Irwin. ‘Crikey’ is an expression of shock or surprise.

Example: “Crikey, that croc just tried to bite off my arm.”

Digger

An affectionate name for Australian soldiers . It’s said the name comes from British soldiers who thought of all Australians as miners. Now the term is widely used - particularly in reference to war veterans.

Troppo

Someone is said to have ‘gone troppo’ if they are displaying crazy or wild behaviour. This term stems from the behaviours that come from excessive heat in tropical conditions.

Example: “Johno’s gone troppo, he quit his job and got married to a sheila he’s only known for a month.”

Yakka

The word yakka comes from an indigenous word for work. So, “Hard Yakka” simply means hard work.

Sheila

Aussie slang for a woman or girl.

Example: “The sheila over there is handing out free snags.”

Meaning: The woman over there is handing out free sausages.

Bush tucker

Bush tucker is any food that is native to Australia. It is traditionally eaten by indigenous Australians and refers to any edible flora or fauna.

When in doubt, add an ‘o’

Informal language and friendly nicknames are what Aussies do best. For instances where no nickname exists, the word is usually shortened and an ‘o’ added to the end.

Here’s just a few of the hundreds of examples:

Avocado = Avo

Bottle shop or liquor store = Bottle-o

Ambulance = Ambo

Definitely = defo

Derelict = dero

Devastated = devo

Garage man = garbo

Journalist = journo

Moustache = mo

Musician = muso

Poverty = povo

Pregnant = preggo

Registration = rego

Relative = relo

Salvation Army = salvo

Service Station = servo

Aggressive = agro

Afternoon = arvo

Renovation = reno

Compensation = compo

And so the list could go on and on.

Classic Aussie phrases

Aussies sure have a funny way of describing things. Use this handy guide to translate some of the strangest Australian phrases going round.

Stone the crows and stiffen the lizards

Stone the crows and stiffen the lizards is an exclamation of disbelief, surprise or shock. This saying has fallen out of use over the last few years but you may still hear it from time to time.

Don’t be a drongo

A drongo is a person who is considered slow-witted or stupid. It can also be used as a way of calling someone a fool or an idiot - not exactly a compliment if you do hear this.

Going for smoko

If you find yourself in a work environment in Australia, you’ll likely hear this classic Aussie phrase. A smoko is simply a short, informal break - long enough for a tea or coffee.

Don’t come the raw prawn with me

This slang phrase dates back to World War 2. A ‘raw prawn’ is a naive fool and to ‘come the raw prawn’ means to attempt to deceive or misrepresent a situation.

Shake a leg

To ‘shake a leg’ means to get a move on, to hurry up.

Fair go mate / Fair suck of the sauce bottle / Fair crack of the whip

Each of these sayings mean the same thing: to protest against something that feels unreasonable or to request fairer treatment. In other words, it means ‘Come on, be reasonable.’

She’ll be right

Get ready to hear this on, A LOT. She’ll be right is a phrase used to express belief that everything will be ok.

Example: “I was worried the storm might cause damage to the fence but she’ll be right.”

No worries

This Aussie classic is used regularly by locals across every state and territory in Australia. It’s commonly used as a response when someone thanks you for helping them and means ‘ it was no trouble’ or ‘no dramas’.

Tell him he’s dreamin’

“Tell him he’s dreamin’” is a line from iconic Australian movie, The Castle. It’s a way of expressing that someone has unrealistic expectations.

Example:

“Johno is trying to sell his old push bike for $100.”

“Tell him he’s dreamin.’”

If you haven’t watched The Castle yet, it’s highly recommended as quotes from the movie are frequently used in conversations between Aussies.

Straight to the pool room

Another classic quote from The Castle meaning something is special or valuable.

Example: “Dad, I made this painting for you at school.”

“That’s going straight to the pool room.”

How’s the serenity

The final phrase we’ll share from The Castle (we told you it’s a good idea to watch the movie). It’s a phrase used to describe when you’re feeling calm or when you are in a peaceful or beautiful location.

You’ve got rocks in your head

You’ve got rocks in your head is used to describe someone who is displaying poor judgement or is acting stupidly.

Have a dingo’s breakfast

Dingos are wild Australian dogs that are perceived to have a bit of a tough life. Therefore a dingo's breakfast means having no breakfast at all.

Having a yarn / spinning a yarn

‘Having a yarn’ is to have a chat or conversation while ‘spinning a yarn’ is to tell a story.

Being a sticky beak

If someone is being ‘nosey’ or overly inquisitive they are known as a ‘sticky beak’.

On a good wicket

Australians love their cricket (and sports in general) so it’s no surprise that they’ve borrowed terminology from the game to use in everyday conversations. If someone is ‘on a good wicket’ it means they are in a highly beneficial environment. It’s a term that’s often used to describe someone in a well paying job.

Example: “Shazza’s new job pays over $100k a year and she gets four weeks paid holiday.”

“Crikey, she’s on a good wicket.”

Tinnie

A tinnie is a name for a can of beer.

Pokies

This is the Aussie name for gambling or slot machines.

Example: “I’m off to the pokies.”

Meaning: “I’m going to use the slot machines.”

Yeah nah

A non-aggressive way to disagree with someone. ‘Yeah nah’ basically means ‘yes I see your argument, but no I don’t agree.”

Getting into the Aussie way

The best thing about Australian slang is that it’s never taken too seriously. So, save this guide and pull it out next time as a conversation starter when you’re getting social with the locals.

Expect some friendly banter and jovial teasing as you work your way round the Aussie language.

And, for more info that will help you settle in to the Australian way of life, check out these other articles:

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