Illustration by Emma Jayne, courtesy of the Bright Agency.
Australians may share their language with their Northern Hemisphere friends, but when it comes to everyday speech, we couldn’t be more different. We Aussies use a lexicon of countless unique slang phrases and terms in order to describe our everyday life down under.
A clued-in foreigner might know that G’day is a type of greeting, but what about our lesser-known (and much loved) phrases like hooroo? With the help of this miniature pocketbook, you can learn these essential 15 Aussie phrases (and their hilarious translations) and you’ll be true blue in no time!
1. Choc a bloc
Definition: This phrase is used to describe an area or thing that is really full.
Example: “Mate, that parking lot is choc a bloc!”
2. Taking the piss
Definition: A phrase used to refer to making fun of someone or something, or “pulling someone’s leg,” as we might also say in English.
Example: “Don’t take the piss out of Jeremy. He’s sensitive!”
3. She’ll be right
Definition: A phrase used to imply that a situation or person implied will be okay.
Example: “She’ll be right mate, that sauce stain will come out in the wash.”
4. Tell him he’s dreamin’
Definition: This phrase is used to tell somebody that their offer is unreasonable and is frequently used in a trade or bargain context. The phrase was originally a quote in the iconically Australian film, The Castle, but has since found its way into common speech.
Example: “$250 for a used bicycle helmet? Tell him he’s dreamin’.”
5. A few stubbies short of a 6-pack
Definition: This phrase refers to somebody who is lacking in intelligence. It can be used interchangeably with the other beloved Aussie phrase “a few sandwiches short of a picnic.”
Example: “Geez. That bloke Mark sure is a few stubbies short of a six-pack.”
6. Pull ya head in
Definition: A phrase used to tell somebody that their behavior is out of line and they need to correct it, preferably immediately.
Example: “Pull ya head in mate, that’s no way to speak to someone!”
7. Woop woop
Definition: This set of words is used to describe a faraway place or remote location, much like you could use “the middle of nowhere” in a sentence.
Example: “I’m driving out to woop woop for Christmas with the in-laws!”
8. Going off
Definition: You might already be familiar with this Aussie phrase — but perhaps not both meanings. Yes, the phrase “going off” has two meanings: the first is for describing somebody who’s extremely mad, while the second is used to describe a party that is going absolutely wild.
Example: “My mum’s going off about throwing that party!” and/or “That party was going off last night!”
9. You wanna go?
Definition: This is another phrase that might have entered your lexicon. The popular Aussie phrase “you wanna go?” is used when you’re inviting somebody to physically fight you. It can also be used comically between good friends.
Example: “Oi mate. I saw you checkin’ out me missus. You wanna go?”
10. True blue
Definition: A phrase used to describe somebody who’s authentic and genuine.
Example: “Rob helped me move house last weekend! That bloke sure is true blue.”
11. Face like a dropped pie
Definition: This insulting Aussie phrase describes somebody’s facial appearance when it’s similar to that of a destroyed pastry.
Example: “I’ve got a face like a dropped pie.”
12. How ya garn?
Definition: A more common way of asking someone how they’re doing. It’s essentially “How are you going?” but pushed together and with an Aussie accent.
Example: “Hey mate! How ya garn?!”
13. Bloody beautiful / what a beaut’ / what a beauty
Definition: This phrase is used to describe something positive; an expression of positive fortune.
Example: “Look at this fish I just caught! What a beauty!”
14. See ya when I’m lookin’ at ya
Definition: A not-so-friendly phrase one uses when they’re saying goodbye to somebody they don’t intend to see again.
Example: “Alright mate. See ya when I’m lookin’ at ya!”
15. Knock off / Can’t wait to knock off
Definition: “Knock off” is a term for finishing work and is often used to describe how excited one is to finish work for the day.
Example: “It’s going to be beautiful weather this weekend, I sure can’t wait to knock off!”
Good luck understanding (or even using) these phrases to impress your new Aussie mates. Put on a bad Aussie accent and you’ll be laughing like a galah in no time!