Illustration by Emma Jayne, courtesy of the Bright Agency.
Australians may share a language with their Northern Hemisphere friends, but when it comes to everyday speech, they couldn’t be more different. Aussies use a lexicon of countless unique slang phrases and terms in order to describe everyday life Down Under.
A clued-in foreigner might know that G’day is a type of greeting, but what about lesser-known (and much-loved) phrases like hooroo? With the help of this miniature pocketbook, you can learn some essential Aussie phrases (plus their hilarious translations) and be true blue in no time!
1. Choc a bloc
Definition: This Aussie 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 for making fun of someone or something — to “pull someone’s leg,” as we might also say in other varieties of English.
Example: “Don’t take the piss out of Jeremy. He’s going through a hard time!”
3. She’ll be right
Definition: A phrase used to imply that a situation or person 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 Aussie phrase is used to tell somebody that their offer is unreasonable — it’s frequently used in trading or bargaining contexts. The phrase is actually a quote from the iconic Australian film, The Castle, but it 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 pair of words is used to describe a faraway place or remote location, much like using “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 of its connotations. 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 absolutely wild.
Examples: “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 popular Aussie phrase that might have already entered your lexicon. It’s used as an invitation to start a physical fight. It can also be used comically between good friends.
Example: “Oi mate. I hear you’re disrespectin’ me. 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 resembles 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 spoken with an Aussie accent.
Example: “Hey mate! How ya garn?!”
13. Bloody beautiful/what a beaut’/what a beauty
Definition: These phrases are used to describe something positive — a remark of good fortune, so to speak.
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 Aussie phrase you’d use when saying goodbye to somebody you 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. It’s often used to describe how excited you are to leave 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 Aussie phrases to impress your new mates Down Under. Put on a bad Aussie accent and you’ll be laughing like a galah in no time!