This week I’d like to take the opportunity to share some of my favourite Aussie slang terms and phrases. Being born in Australia to parents who migrated as children and growing up in the suburbs of Western Sydney, Aussie slang was something that was heard and used on a daily basis.
Some of my favourite terms and phrases might not be in popular use anymore and some may not have even originated in Australian, but was adopted by us nonetheless and used for so long that I guess it just became Aussie, sort of like pavlova I suppose.
A lot of times it can be hard to understand the meaning of certain Australian slang words or phrases, as they can have more than one meaning, so you need to carefully take note of the context it is used in to understand it’s meaning. Sometimes though, no matter how hard you try, Aussie slang makes no sense whatsoever to those who are not familiar with it. I guess that’s what makes it even more fun to use, especially around non-Aussies.
Before I get started though, never in my entire life have I “throw[n] another shrimp on the barbie”. Firstly, any true blue Aussie would never “throw” we would “chuck” and it would be a prawn we would “throw on the the barbie”. Plus, the average Australian household would not be affording the throw (or chuck) countless prawns on the barbie. Prawns are reserved for special occasions like Christmas lunch, most of us just chuck a few “snags” on the barbie and make a few “sangas” with tomato sauce.
So here it is, some of my favourite Aussie slang as well as a few favourites from my followers.
- “Built like a brick shit house” – This phrase is used to describe a person’s physique, usually that of a man. If someone appears as large, muscular and strong they would be described as being “built like a brick shit house”, as we all know that a brick shit house is much more structurally sound than any other shit house in existence. This is absolutely one of my favourite sayings and was definitely a fun one to explain to my husband when I once attempted to compliment his physique by saying he was “built like a brick shit house”.
Example of usage: -“Did you see that big bloke Dazza move that ute with his bare hands?”
-“Yeah mate it was unreal, that bloke’s built like a brick shit house!”
- “Face like a dropped pie” – not a phrase that is used as a compliment, this phrase is used to emphasise a person’s “ugliness”.
Example of usage: – “Hey Shazza, why didn’t you let him buy you a drink?”
– “Get stuffed Kazza, next he’ll be expecting a root or somethin’ and he had a face like a dropped pie!”
*In no way do I promote body shaming or bullying, I am simply including this one because…. well because it’s bloody funny
- “Bugger” or “Buggered” – a multi-functional term which can be used as an exclamation, a expression of disappointment or to describe the state of something or someone.
Examples of usage: – “Can it be fixed?”
– “Nah mate, it’s totally buggered.”
– “I got to the bottle-o as soon as they opened, but they were already sold out of VB.”
– “Got on the cans last night, didn’t get home until this mornin’, now I’m totally buggered.”
- “Flat out like a lizard drinking!” – This is one of the more intriguing sayings where the meaning may not initially be clear to the non-Aussie and a favourite of the late Steve Irwin, best known as the Crocodile Hunter. Basically this saying is used to describe a state of being extremely busy, a bit of the twist on the phrase “flat out”
Examples of usage: -“Hey Gazza, you been gettin’ much work lately?”
-“Mate, I been flat out like a lizard drinking!”
- “Arvo” or “S’arvo” – This is one of the most common terms used in Aussie slang that is used by Australians from all generations and I’m sure will be used by many future generations of Australians. “Arvo” is an abbreviation of the word “afternoon” with “s’arvo” being used in place of the words “this afternoon”. Sometimes the word “arvo” is used to state the receiving of an after-school detention by high school students.
Examples of usage: -“Reckon we should pop to the pub s’arvo and have a few schooners.”
– “Bloody principal gave me an arvo for fightin’ again.”
– “Havin’ a barbie Sunday arvo is you wanna pop round.”
- “Barbie” -This particular term is a very popular one for all Australians, but has absolutely nothing to do with the Mattel doll with the same name. “Barbie” is a favourite past-time of many Australians and many gatherings of friends and family usually include this at some point, especially in the warmer months. Of course the word “barbie” is an abbreviation for the word “barbecue” the act of cooking outdoors, often involving throwing a few “snags” on.
Example of usage: -“Come round Sunday arvo, we chucking a few snags on the barbie.”
- “Chockers” – A term used to describe something (or someone) as full or overflowing.
Examples of usage: – “Fancy another snag sanga Bazza?”
– “Nah I’ll be right mate, I’m chockers!”
- “Fair Dinkum” -A phrase used to express truth, sincerity, fairness or authenticity in a statement.
Example of usage: – “Was Gazza bein’ fair dinkum when he said he was cutting down on the cans?”
– “I was bein’ fair dinkum when I said I’d help ya out.”
- “Servo” – This term is also an abbreviation, if you hadn’t noticed already, Australians are very fond of abbreviating everything and anything they can in the English language. The term “servo” is used in place of “Service station” the place where fuel is purchased as well as a selection of products like that of a convenience store.
Example of usage: -“Just poppin’ to the servo to get some milk and petrol luv, be back in a tick.”
- “She’ll be right”– A phrase used to state that everything will be OK and not to be concerned.
Example of usage: – “Ya reckon we should tie the furniture onto the roof rack pf the commodore or somethin?”
– “Nah mate, she’ll be right. Just stick ya hand out the window and keep it steady while I’m drivin’.”
- “Tell him he’s dreamin’!” -Not entirely an Aussie slang term, but actually a quote from the iconic Australian movie The Castle. This phrase has come into usage following the popularity of the film in Australia and is used in a similar fashion as “keep dreaming”. It is used as a statement of impossible achievement.
Example of usage: – “This bloke wants 200 bucks for a used barbie.”
– “200 bucks? Tell him he’s dreamin’!”
- “Onya” – Yet another abbreviation, this one for the phrase “good on you”. This one is a congratulatory term used to tell someone “well done” or “good job” etc.
Example of usage: – “Hey mum, I got into uni!”
– “Onya darl, I’m proud of ya!”
- “Hot as jam on a toasted jaffle!”– This one is used to describe temperature (obviously), usually in relation to the weather, which can often reach the high forties (degrees Celsius) in an Australian summer. For those who don’t know, a jaffle is a toasted sandwich made in a sandwich press that moulds the bread into toasted triangles. The act of making a jam jaffle, causes the jam to be so hot that I reckon it could cause third degree burns.
Example of usage: – “Mate, it’s so bloody hot out there, I could really use a cold one.”
– “Yea I reckon! Hot as jam on a toasted jaffle!”
- “Chuck a sickie” – This phrase is used to describe the action of taking sick leave, when you’re not actually sick. This is not something done all the time, most Australians are honest and hardworking, but “chucking a sickie” does happen for many different reasons.
Example of usage: – “Bloody boss won’t even give me the mornin’ off to go to my daughter’s uni graduation.”
– “Stuff that! She’s the first person in our family to get a uni degree, just chuck a sickie.”
- “G’day” – This is probably one of best known Aussie slang terms throughout the world. Often teamed with the word “mate” the phrase “G’day mate” was once a common greeting amongst Australians and whilst it is indeed still in use, its usage is not as common nowadays as many non-Aussies might be led to believe. The term “g’day” is of course another abbreviation, this time of the greeting “good day.”
Example of usage – “I popped in to say g’day to Shazza the other day, she’s lookin’ pretty buggered lookin’ after 6 kids.”
- “Bloody oath!” – This phrase is used to emphasise a point or to indicate agreement. Sometimes used in a similar way to “too right” or “indeed”.
Example of usage: – “Dazza did you take my last beer outta the esky?”
– “Bloody oath I did! I was bloody parched. It’s bloody hot as jam on a toasted jaffle today!”
- “Sangas” – This one is a term used for “sandwiches”, sausage “sangas” or “snag sangas” are a popular and cost-effective way to feed a number of people at gatherings.
Example of usage: – “Don’t worry about all that catering crap, we’ll just chuck some snags on the barbie and make a few sangas.”
- “Snags” – If you haven’t already figured it out, “snags” are sausages, which are often “chucked” on the barbie as a quick and easy meal when you have over a group of people.
Example of usage: – “How about some prawns to chuck on the barbie on Sunday?”
– “You right luv? What d’ya think this is Chrissy lunch or somethin’? Just get some snags, no need to do anythin’ fancy it’s only Dazza and the boys comin’ round.”
- “Chuck” – This term is used in the same way as the word “throw”. In Australia you don’t “throw” something, you “chuck” it.
Example of usage: -“Oi, Dazza, chuck me a cold one from the esky would ya?”
Of course this is no where near a complete list of Aussie slang terms and phrases, it’s just a selection of some of my favourites. As I mentioned before, much of Australian slang is multi-functional and my description of meaning and usage might be different to your own.
I’d be interested to hear from you all, what are some of your favourite Aussie slang terms and phrases? Or even what are some of your favourite slang terms and phrases from across the globe?
Comment below or let me know on Facebook or Twitter!
© Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within, (2013-2016). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.