Aussie slang I miss (and will never fully understand)

Wild koala in a tree

When non-Aussies think of Australia, I like to believe we push those pre-conceived perceptions of everyone saying things like “Crikey!” and “G’day mate!” and “Bonzaaaa” away from our minds. Obviously, not everyone says those things and I’m pretty certain only one person ever said “Crikey” (RIP).

Now that I’ve been away from Oz for a bit, I keep reminiscing over the seriously incredible Aussie slang I was always hearing. I wanted to share some of my faves:

Bogan AKA redneck (US) AKA chav (UK): every country has some. Celebrate the diversity and make friends with your ‘bogan neighbor’ who will probably be one of the nicest people you’ve ever met! That is a true story.

Bush walk AKA hike: the bush is the forest/woods and a bush walk is just that, walking through the forestwoods. Best done in the Dandenong Ranges or Otway National Park or pretty much anywhere in Straya.

Signs say "Lower Falls Steep Trail" and "Upper Falls Easy Trail" with Oli standing by the Easy Trail sign.
Always take the easy trail.

Choccy bikkies AKA chocolate biscuits: pretty much the staple of an after-dinner treat or cheeky afternoon snack. Best brand for this is: Arnotts TimTams (original or double chocolate flavor only…)

Crook AKA sick or unwell: my boss told me on one of my first days, “If you ever need to call out crook just let me know and I’ll understand.”  The way he said it made it seem like if I ever had to quit (?) I just needed to text him and he would understand? I looked up what the heck he was talking about after my meeting and then the world made more sense. (You can also use: pull a sickie)

Doof! AKA part-ay!: love this one especially since the name of the gay club down our high street was the Poof Doof! Classic Australian club names…

Poof Doof
It’s real. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)

Esky AKA cooler (US/UK) AKA chilly bin (NZ): Esky is the brand of container you put your food and drinks in to stay cool, and it caught on as the colloquial name. I have to be honest, and out of these three words, I think chilly bin is by far the best. Soz oz (sorry Australia).

Hooroo! AKA see ya later!: if an Australian is feeling super Australian, they’ll use this term to say bye, because goodbye is too formal and see you later takes too many syllables. Hooroo is the perfect au revoir. See this classic use of it in a Foster’s* advert. *It should be noted no Australian would be caught dead drinking a Foster’s.

Heaps AKA lots, many: Aussies are big into their heaps. Whether it’s heaps of traffic or heaps of work or heaps of stubbies. Heaps is as versatile as it is fun to say.

Keen AKA interested: I got the question when speaking with recruiters about jobs, “Are you keen?” And it threw me off for a few seconds because I just wasn’t used to hearing the word often. It’s just a cute way of saying, “Are you interested?” It’s also used for dating and such.

Macca’s AKA McDonald’s: Ahh, the golden arches. With their inedible food and low prices. Thanks, America. And yes, some of the signs here do actually say ‘Macca’s.’

Macca's sign
Photo courtesy of the lovely Daily Mail.

Mozzies AKA mosquitoes AKA the devil’s bug: they’re everywhere and they will find you and they will eat you.

Pommy AKA Englishperson: this term has many possible origins, one is that when the prisoners of England were sent to Australia to build stuff, they arrived with POME (Prisoner of Mother England) or POHM (Prisoner of  His Majesty) on the back of their shirts. Thus, any Englishperson in Oz is a Pommy.

But, this theory is riddled with inaccuracies and little actual fact (but it is a great story!), so, it is possible the term is derived from “pomegranite” due to Brits red complexion in the Australian sun or it is rhyming slang for “immigrant.” #TheMoreYouKnow

Sanger AKA sandwich/sarnie: the perfect lunchtime meal for any occasion.

Squizz AKA look: Oi mate, have a squizz at this! It’s a snake eating a croc! It’s a great word because most people outside of Oz won’t have a bloody clue what you’re talking about. Score one for the people who like to be confusing.

Ranga AKA redhead/ginger: this word’s origins are believed to have come from the shortened ‘orangutang’ because of their reddish hair.

Thongs AKA flip-flops (US/UK) AKA jandals (NZ): this is a quintessentially Australian term and while I could never quite catch on to calling these shoes ‘thongs,’ I did understand people were talking about shoes and not underwear (most of the time). The brand of choice is, of course, Haviananas.

Broken thong
Thong probs.

Pluggers AKA reinforced flipflopthongjandals: these are hardcore shoes for someone who is constantly ‘bustin’ their pluggas‘ and breaking thongs. They’re truly one of the best inventions of our time. (Watch the whole video…it’s worth it.)

No wakkas AKA no worries: this one came up quite a bit when chatting with housemates or with co-workers. It’s a cute, weird way of saying don’t sweat the small stuff (but probably do because this term is used in many situations).

Whipper snipper AKA weed whacker, weed eater: this word didn’t come up too often but when we were working on a farm, it was a tool of choice! It’s a truly lovely combination of rhyming words and I’m proud to have used such an instrument in Australia.

Basically abbreviating every word and putting an ‘o’ on the end: For example, ambo (ambulance), avo (avocado), rego (car registration), arvo (afternoon), bizzo (business), bottle-o (bottle shop/liquor store), servo (service station), thingo (thingy-majig)… the list continues…

Oh, and people do say ‘g’day!’ Though I never heard ‘g’day mate’ which I assume is reserved for stereotypes in tv and movies.

So there ya go! Some of my favorite Aussie slang. The list could go on for ages but it is probably best you just go there and experience it for yourself.  Shoutout to my Aussie mates that helped me learn their unique language.

Hoo roo!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *