How To Speak Australian

It’s not all ‘brekkie’ and ‘barbie.’ To speak like a true Australian, you have to learn to stop being such a wanker first.
koala hanging out in a tree aussie slang

Should you, an American, ever happen to wash up on the shores of Australia, the first thing you should keep in mind is that people have smartphones there, so you probably don’t need to rely on animals to help you find your way. Even if you’re not totally sure how to speak Australian, standard English should work just fine while you’re still a newcomer to Aussie slang.

The second thing you should keep in mind is that while Americans and Australians both speak English, they don’t entirely speak the same language.

For one, Australians have a charming habit of abbreviating words, or giving everything a nickname, and giving nicknames to nicknames. For instance: “afternoon” becomes “arvo,” “breakfast” becomes “brekkie,” “mosquito” becomes “mozzie,” and your name would almost certainly have an “ie” tacked on at the end. As a matter of fact, it was Australia that gave us the word “selfie.” At the end of the day, you’re not using Australian slang, after all — you’re using Aussie slang.

Apparently, as legend would have it, these abbreviations were invented through necessity — more specifically, the need to clench your teeth to keep the blow flies from getting in your mouth. Many of these diminutives are just as long, if not longer, than the original words, so this probably isn’t entirely true. It’s an aesthetic, but also something more. The relaxed, informal nature of Aussie slang points to a deeper truth about the culture. Australian humor is about “taking the piss out of someone,” or ribbing them. To be Australian is to not take life — or yourself — too seriously, which makes the Australian brand of sarcasm occasionally difficult to detect for some overly earnest Americans.

“Australians are really dry and sarcastic, so half the stuff we say is a joke,” said Raj Barker, an Australian living in New York City. “Our humor is about putting people down, but in a joking way. That’s why Americans can sometimes get offended by us.”

Beyond its unpretentious candor, Aussie slang is also fairly crude, but who knew there were so many applications for the word “piss,” and what else would you expect from a language that’s here to take you down a few pegs?

Without further ado, here is a brief field guide to Australian English for your next journey to Oz. (Heads up — some of these terms are pretty vulgar.)

Aussie Slang You Need To Know

it’s pissing down — it’s raining

a bit dusty — hungover

what a pearler — what a beauty

ocker — someone who speaks crudely

chuck a U-ey — make a U-turn

chockers — full to the brim

she’ll be right — she’ll be okay

sweet as — good (as in: “How’s your day?” “Sweet as”)

yeah nah — no

nah yeah — yes

Sheila — a woman you admire and respect (as in: “She’s a top Sheila”)

cooked — tired, had enough

to have a face like a dropped pie — ugly

to have a face like a burnt thong (flip-flop) — ugly

to have a face like a smashed crab — ugly

going off like a frog in a sock — lively, hopping (as in: “This party’s going off like a frog in a sock”)

carrying on like a pork chop — being a dickhead

I’m not here to fuck spiders — I’m not here to fuck around

old mate — that guy

budgie smugglers — men’s swimming shorts

got the shits — pissed off

up at sparrow’s fart — up really early

bit how’s your father — it was okay (as in: “How was the movie?” “Eh, bit how’s your father”)

Bob’s your uncle — and there you have it

chuck a sickie — call out sick

dead-set mole — bitch

fang us a durry — give us a cigarette

bloody ripper — really awesome

I’ll be there in a tick — I’ll be there in a minute

died in the ass — broke (as in: “Ugh, my phone died in the ass”)

heaps — lots

have to get a wriggle on — have to be quick

he couldn’t swing a cat in there — it’s really crowded

bugger off — get lost

I was buggered — I was tired

you beauty — hell yeah

fair dinkum — for real/seriously?

it’s the duck’s nuts — it’s really good

she’s such a dag — she has no style

wanker — someone who’s pretentious or stuck up

get a dog up ya — get fucked

give something a red hot go — give it a real try

I’ve having a very shocker — I’m having a bad day

I’ve got to take the kids to the pool/I’ve got to drop the kids off — I have to take a dump

she’s such a sook — she’s such a sulker

wouldn’t piss on it if it was on fire — equivalent to the American “wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole”

dunny/dunny can — toilet

on your bike — fuck off, move along (as in: “Watch where you’re going.” “On your bike!”)

I’m busting — I really have to go to the bathroom

piece of piss — really easy

be there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail — be there in no time

flaming galah — idiot (a galah is an Australian bird)

pash — passionate kiss

bog — a poop

I’m going to a piss up — I’m going to a party

first cab off the rank — first to do something

mole — essentially, this is a horrible thing to call someone

waffling on — talking a lot

get nicked — go away

yobbo — redneck

tucker — food

feeling crook — not feeling well

bulldust — bullshit

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