Australian-isms 101

I love being an Australian.  Not only is Australia a beautiful, unique country, it’s full of unique, eccentric people who say really weird things in a really neat accent.  In honour of all Australians, past, present and future, and in kind jest of all Americans out there, I’ve written a list of the things us Aussies say and what we mean by them.

G’day – let’s start with the basics.  It’sAustralia’s contraction for ‘good day’.

Fair Dinkum ­– Wowzwers, incredible, far out, cool, no way!  It’s generally used in a positive sense, or out of amazement.

You lil’ beauty – perfect.  I want no more.

Ripper beauty – see fair dinkum and you lil’ beauty.

Pavlova – this is the dessert of Australia (and New Zealand.  The jury is still out as to who invented it and I cannot be bothered fighting with them.  But the jury stays out.)  A large meringue cake, topped with cream, strawberries, kiwi fruit, passionfruit, banana, or whatever other fruit we can find.

Billabong – a natural-looking (but not necessarily so) dam or lake.

She’ll be right mate – the typical Australian is very laid-back and hates stress.  It’s our attitude to every problem we face: everything will be OK.

Chinwag – think about it.  It’s when you let your chin, wag.  Basically, talking.

Dunny – a.k.a. the toilet.

Tho… no, I won’t go here.  All I’ll say is we do not say flip-flops, but what we do say is inappropriate to Americans!

Dummy spit – not so much spitting the dummy exactly, although that probably happens when you do the dummy spit.  It’s when you throw a tantrum.  A really bad one.

What’s a dummy?  *Sighs* It’s a…a…a… pacifier (*shudders at the word*) Seriously, guys; pacifier?!  In Nomi’s words, ‘it sounds like a Jedi weapon!’

Furphy – a myth, wives’ tale, or lie, proven false.  Mum used it once in a blog post here.

Whinge – complain, whine.

Chuck a wobbly – see dummy spit.

Barbie – Barbeque. It does mean the doll too, but we’ve learnt to think about the context.

Nappy – a diaper.

Sheila – female.

Blokes – guys.

Shop – Store. Supermarket. Whatever.

Op shop – thrift store.  I think ‘op’ stands for ‘opportunity’.

Crocs and mozzies – crocodiles (not alligators – sorry guys, but alligators are puny in comparison to a truly stalwart crocodile) and mosquitoes.

Jelly and jam – what we call jelly, Americans call jell-o, and what Americans call jelly, we call jam.  There is no jell-o in Australia, but there is a type of jam in America.  Just to clear up matters!

Vegemite – the best spread ever.  Black and salty and tasty and gives you rosy cheeks.  Why we sold it to an American brand, I don’t know…

Swag – a roll-up canvas sleeping bag with a mattress inside.

Billy – it’s a kettle that sits over top of, or in, a campfire, to boil the water to make the tea.  Australians love their tea.

True blue – through and through.  If you are ‘true blue’, it often means you are very patriotic to your Australian country.


What other words do Aussies use?  Please tell!


19 thoughts on “Australian-isms 101

  1. Aussie slang is pretty cool!! 😀 I like teasing my international friends by using it, and they never know what I’m talking about!

    Some other good ones are: esky, paddock, arvo, ambo, bikkies, mozzies, sunnies etc etc 🙂 I think most of the words are all abbreviations. We seem to be good at doing that! haha

    1. Bikkies!! Yes! though I think even Australians are loosing this one as we adopt the word cookies.

  2. The term for Aussie slang is ‘Strine’. I once heard a man talk completely in Strine and I couldn’t keep up with the conversation. LOL. It’s a completely different language…

    1. I’m with you rawhuman; even though I think ‘strine’ is fun and unique I don’t really speak it all the time and it really is like another language!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. LOL, Jessica! I *loved* reading all of these 😀 My favorites are ‘fair dinkum’ which I first heard on Patch the Pirate’s ‘Down Under’ adventure cd, and now my new favorite is ‘she’ll be right mate’ 😀 I’m always telling one of my more up-tight sisters that ‘everything is going to be okay’, hehe! (Not that I’m *always* so laid back myself)

    Thanks for sharing these…they are so fun!

    p.s. I think pacifier (also sometimes called a paci)makes much more sense than a ‘dummy’, lol! I just had to tease! One family we are friends with calls them ‘guh-guh’s’. I’m not sure where that started, other than probably one of the little kids couldn’t say ‘pacifier’ so they called it a ‘guh-guh’. 😀

  4. I love it! Now to have a video of you pronouncing them all? Pretty please?! 🙂

    Actually, back in the dinosaur age when I was a little girl, they were called tho…. instead of flip-flops! Before there were other uses of the word! (Those other things didn’t exist back in my dinosaur age, either!)


    ~Trisch (Seven Sisters’ Mama–or Mum! 😉

  5. Loved this!! I am a devotee of all kinds of colloquialisms, and this was great fun! I’m with Trisch–back in the day, flip-flips had another name. My husband still delights in using the term, much to our kids embarrassment! 😀

  6. I think the Canadian word for a pacifier/dummy makes the most sense. They call it a “soother.” It totally describes the object! I love this post! I thought I knew quite a bit of Aussie slang. Well, I don’t, but I do know more than most Americans do! 🙂 Will you come visit me????? I miss hearing an Aussie accent!!!

    1. A soother… hmmm… that does make more sense but I think to me a dummy will always be a dummy! 🙂

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for commenting! when you came to Australia did you say things that made no sense to Australians? If so I’d love to hear what they were!


  7. Too easy, no worries, tea (something to eat rather than the hot drink), all the name abbreviations (Brissy, Rocky, Chrissy), smoko, ute, kindy, BYO. We’ve been here for two years and love the Aussie-speak!

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