Australian Words and Phrases: Aussie Speak

Friends resting in park after rollerblading
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English is the principal language spoken in Australia, though there are enough unique words and phrases to sometimes make it seem like we speak a completely different language!

Therefore, becoming familiar with the main terms will make any trip to Australia a little more convenient. It may also give you a chuckle, too!

The Australian language is made up of phrases and word usages that will seem completely strange to some travelers.

While those coming from the United Kingdom may be able to grasp quite a few words without much difficulty, due to the similarity between British English and Australian English, American travelers might find it more challenging.

The following words aren’t classified as slang, and though they may be used colloquially in some contexts, they are commonly spoken and written in Australian society.

So what are the most common Australian words and phrases that foreigners should know?

Barrack for: to follow, support or cheer for a sports team.

Battler: A person who perseveres and tries hard despite having money problems.

Bitumen: Paved road or asphalt.

Bludger: from the verb “to bludge” which means to avoid doing something, and avoid responsibility. A bludger refers to someone who cuts school, won’t work or relies on social security payments.

Bonnet: The hood of a car.

Boot: The trunk of a car.

Bottle Shop: The liquor store.

Bushfire: A forest fire or a wildfire, which are a severe threat in many parts of Australia.

Bushranger: A country term which commonly refers to an outlaw or a highwayman.

BYO: An acronym which stands for “Bring Your Own”, referring to alcohol. This is common at some restaurants or on an event invitation.

Cask: Boxed wine which is ready for consumption.

Chemist: Pharmacy or drugstore, where prescription drugs and other products are sold.

Come good: To turn out well or make a recovery.

Cut lunch: Sandwiches had for lunch.

Deli: Short for delicatessen, where gourmet products and milk are usually sold.

Esky: An insulated container, internationally known as a “cooler”, which is primarily used to keep drinks and food cold during outdoor activities, such as picnics or trips to the beach.

Flake: Meat from a shark, which is usually served in the form of the cultural favorite dish, fish, and chips.

Give It Away: To give up or stop trying.

Grazier: A farmer of cattle or sheep.

Holidays (sometimes colloquially shortened to hols): A vacation period, for instance, summer vacation is known as the summer holidays.

Knock: To criticize something or talk badly about it, usually without just cause.

Lamington: A chocolate-covered sponge cake which is then rolled in shredded coconut.

Lift: Elevator, adopted from British English.

Lolly: Candy or sweets.

Lay-by: To put something on lay-by is to put down a deposit and only take the goods once they’ve been fully paid for.

Milk Bar: Similar to a deli, a milk bar is a convenience store selling a small range of fresh goods.

Newsagent: A newspaper shop where newspapers, magazines and stationary are sold.

Non-smoking area: An area in which it is forbidden to smoke.

Offsider: An assistant or partner.

Out of pocket: To be out of pocket is to have made a monetary loss which is usually insignificant and temporary.

Pavlova: A dessert that is made from meringue, fruit, and cream.

Perve: A verb or noun, which means to look at somebody inappropriately with lust in an uninvited context.

Pictures: An informal way of referring to the cinema.

Ratbag: Somebody who isn’t trustworthy or up to no good.

Ropable: An adjective describing somebody who is furious.

Sealed: A road which is paved rather than being dirt.

Shellacking: Criticism given for a thorough and embarrassing defeat.

Shonky: Unreliable or suspicious.

Shopstealing: Shoplifting.

Sunbake: Sunbathing or tanning.

Takeaway: Takeout or food that is made to go.

Windscreen: The windshield of a car.

Edited and updated by Sarah Megginson.