Australian Words and Phrases: Aussie Speak

Sydney, Australia
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English is the principal language spoken in Australia, although there are enough unique words and phrases that make it seem like they speak entirely different languages. Becoming familiar with the main Australian terms, or "Aussie-speak," will make any trip to Australia more enjoyable.

The Australian language comprises phrases and word usages that will seem completely strange to some travelers. While those coming from the United Kingdom may 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.

These words aren't classified as slang, and though they may be used colloquially in some contexts, they are commonly spoken and written in all parts of Australian society.

Common Australian Words and Phrases for Foreigners

  • 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 avoiding doing something and avoiding 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 that commonly refers to an outlaw or a highwayman
  • BYO: An acronym 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 culturally 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 cause.
  • Lamington: A chocolate-covered sponge cake that is then rolled in shredded coconut
  • Lift: Elevator, adopted from British English
  • Lolly: Candy or sweets
  • Lay-by: To put something on a 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 stationery 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, 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 that 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