Australia has a rich, complex vernacular all of its own. Some commonly used slang dates back to the convict days, while other words have crept into our everyday language only in recent years.
Here is a glossary of some of our favourite Australian words.
1. Ace: A term meaning “cool” that swings in and out of popularity so you’re never sure whether the person saying it is being ironic or not.
2. Avo, smashed: Avocado that has been mashed up and possibly mixed with feta, served on toast. What young people buy now instead of houses.
3. Bail: To abandon something, usually your friends on a night out.
4. Barney: A fight. Also known as a bust up, dust up, biff, scrap, to-do or stink.
5. Billy: Traditionally a can that drovers used to make tea. More frequently used now to describe a bong.
6. Bogan/cashed-up bogan: Someone who’s unapologetically unsophisticated and who embraces Australianisms. A cashed-up bogan has the financial resources to live their best bogan life.
7. Buckley’s: When you have next to no chance of achieving something. Robert Hughes explained the origin of the term in The Fatal Shore: William Buckley was a 6’6” convict who escaped from Port Phillip in Victoria in 1803. By an enormous stroke of luck he ran into an aboriginal tribe, the Watourong, who mistook him for the reincarnated spirit of their dead chief. “Thus in the guise of an enormous spirit, Buckley lived with the Watourong for 32 years before giving himself up.” The sheer improbability of his survival gave rise to the expression, “Buckley’s chanc”, meaning virtually no chance at all.
8. Budgie smugglers: A near-pornographic form of swimwear worn by men with no shame, ranging from prime ministers to your overweight uncle Vince.
9. Chuck a sickie: To take the day off work, usually to binge watch Netflix series or go to the track. Occasionally chucked by actual sick people.
10. Chuck a wobbly: To throw a massive, public, humiliating tantrum.
11. Crack a fat: The enlarged state or condition of erectile tissues within the penis when filled with blood. Also known as getting a stiffy, pitching a tent pole, standing at full salute or getting some angle on your dangle.
12. Democracy sausage: The sausage sizzle available at voting booths on election day. For some reason people forget that cheap sausages are available all year round at Woolies and Coles and go absolutely nuts about democracy sausages on social media.
13. Dole bludger: Someone who receives unemployment benefit for the government without genuinely trying to find a job. Or, according to A Current Affair, anyone who receives any kind of benefit from the government.
14. Fang it: To drive as fast as you can. Can also be used to encourage your friends to hurry up and get to the bar.
15. Kip: A brief nap that is longer than a lie-down and shorter than a snooze.
16. Kiwi: Someone from Middle Earth. What Russell Crowe is when he’s behaving badly.
17. Knockers: Critics. Also, boobs. Hence, when footy players say the phrase, “I know how to handle the knockers” it usually leads to immature giggling.
18. Lollies: The only correct, un-Americanised or Brit-icised term for sweets, candy etc.
19. Macca’s: An Aussiefied nickname given to McDonald’s which helps us forget we’re stuffing American junk food into our mouths.
20. Mate: Despite what Americans might think, this is a highly nuanced term which can take on entirely different meaning depending on context and intonation. Usually used as a substitute for “friend” or “sir” but can also be highly aggressive: “I think you just pushed in, MATE” in a taxi rank is probably a precursor to punches being thrown.
21. Milton mangos: Cans of XXXX, which are similar in size and colour to a mango and produced in Milton, Queensland.
22. Old mate: A term used to describe someone (male or female) who’s name you don’t know, have forgotten or just can’t be bothered saying.
23. Old man/Old lady: Phrases which, disturbingly, can be used to refer to either your parents or your husband/wife. Perhaps originating from some rural areas where those people are often one and the same.
24. Pash: To kiss, passionately. The word used to describe this act can vary depending on which region of Australia you are in. Other examples are pash on, get with or snog.
25. Pineapple: A $50 note. Because it’s yellow. Like a pineapple. $20 notes are lobsters and $10 are blue heelers. We’ll let you try and figure out why.
26. Plonk: Cheap alcohol which, when consumed, often results in unconsciousness.
27. Rip snorter: Something fantastic. Also known as a little pearler, a little ripper or a stonker.
28. Schoolies: The people, aged 16-38, who spend a week celebrating the end of grade 12, usually at beachside locations such as the Gold Coast.
29. Scrub up: To get dressed up nicely. Probably the most effective compliment on the Australian continent is to tell someone they “scrub up alright” when they have obviously put in a huge effort to doll themselves up.
30. Shoey: To skull alcohol out of a disgusting, sweaty piece of footwear. Sometimes made to look semi-charming by Daniel Ricciardo.
31. Silly buggers: Something people play when they should be doing something more sensible.
32. Smokebomb: To bail from a party, bar or club without telling your friends you are leaving. Often the smartest way to exit a situation as, amid the hungover confusion of the next morning, you can usually convince people it was all a misunderstanding and that perhaps they were the ones who smokebombed.
33. Smoko: To have a 10-15 minute break. Commonly used on work sites. Since nobody smokes anymore it should really be called “sausage roll and iced coffee-o”.
34. Stoked: An expression meaning “excited and pleased” used by anyone who has been surfing at least once in their lives.
35. Sugarcane champagne: Bundaberg rum (and coke). Highly conducive to vomiting and violence.
36. Thongs: Flip-flops, which are suitable footwear for most social situations. For some reason Sisqó wrote a song about them.
37. Tinny: Used to describe both a can of beer and a small aluminium boat. Can cause confusion when people drink out of their small boat, or jump on a beer can and attempt to ride it over to the island to chase some flathead.
38. Trackie dacks: Tracksuit pants. Excellent, multifunctional form of attire which can be worn to bed, around the house, down the shops or to more formal events like K-Mart or your mate Caleb’s wedding.
Photo Credit: sbs