Introduction to Australian Slang


Australia is a very fascinating country that speaks English, but as anyone who has visited other countries can attest, British English, American English, and Australian English are three very different things! The Australian English, more than any other, seems to have picked up a heavy amount of slang. As with all slang, some Australian slang is appropriate and some, of course, is derogatory or even racist. This article will attempt to enlighten you on some of the good, bad, and words to be avoided in your travels to visit these amazing people.

1. Words that are important to know

Australia is the largest island on earth. It is important to know a few of the words they use for dangerous animals such as a shark. In Australian slang when speaking about a shark they say “after dark.”  So if you are out fishing or swimming and they start talking about how the after dark is going to get you, don’t think about what you are going to do that night. Get out of there!

Another very important warning of a dead animal is “Joe Blake” and this animal you are more likely to meet up with than the above shark because it is a snake. The majority of snakes in Australia are deadly, and you are very likely to meet one if you’re out in the “never-never,” which is the Outback. It is also important to know certain medical conditions so you can learn not to go get “a bad case of the trots,” which is a polite way to say bad diarrhea, a common occurrence in travel of almost any kind.

2. Familiar Australian Slang

There are some words in Australian slang, that are reminiscent of American slang, such as a bathroom, alligator pear (meaning an avocado), the “bee’s knees” (meaning the best), buzz off (meaning leave), call it quits, and call it a day (meaning to end a day of work or activity). These and others need no or very little translation and can easily be understood by an American.

3. Not so familiar slang

There are some additional words that are very unfamiliar to the American ear and need some explaining. The letter “Z” (pronounced “ Zee”) is not the way they say it. They say the same letter “Zed” which technically is the correct version of the Roman Alphabet where the original letter comes from. A Yabber is one who talks too much.

The southern American “ya’ll” is noted by Australians as “youse.” Both “yobbo” and “yahoo” are what one calls an uncouth person. A “woofer” is none other than a dog while a rabbit is called an “underground mutton.”

Considering to “bag” someone is the American equivalent of gossiping behind their back. Along the same line of manners, do NOT give the peace sign in Australia—there it is the equivalent of flipping someone the bird. Along the same lines, if you eat a great meal as a guest, don’t say you’re “stuffed.” It means the same thing as the peace sign down there and is not good manners. What we would call “take out” (as in taking out pizza) they call it “take away” (which is more accurate).

There are words you should know when you travel a far distance as well as some very interesting words that let you know the spirit of the country. Australia is a great country and has a very interesting and lively language.