Colourful Australian slang, or strine, has its origins in the archaic cockney and Irish of the colony’s early convicts as well as the adoption of words from the many Aboriginal languages. And for such a vast country, the accent barely varies to the untutored ear; from Tasmania (“Tassie”) to the northwest you’ll find little variation in the national drawl, with a curious, interrogative ending to sentences fairly common – although Queenslanders are noted for their slow delivery.

One of the most consistent tendencies of strine is to abbreviate words and then stick an “-o” or, more commonly, an “-ie” on the end: as in “bring your cozzie to the barbie this arvo”. This informality extends to the frequent use of “bloody”, “bugger” and “bastard” – all used affectionately of course. There’s also an endearing tendency to genderize inanimate objects as, for example, “she’s buggered, mate” (your inanimate object is beyond repair). 

All sound a bit complicated? Taken from the Rough Guide to Australia, here’s our guide to the best (and worst) of Australian slang.

The basics

G’day Hello, hi. Short for “good day”.
Arvo Afternoon.
Beg yours? Excuse me, say again?
No worries That’s OK; It doesn’t matter; Don’t mention it.

Northern Territory, Australia

All about Australia

Back o’Bourke Outback.
Banana bender Resident of Queensland.
Beyond the Black Stump Outback; back of beyond.
Billabong Waterhole in dry river bed.
Bush Unsettled country area.
Crow eater Resident of South Australia.
Never Never Outback, wilderness.
Sandgroper Resident of Western Australia.

Bushtucker, barbies and more

Barbie Barbecue.
Billy Cooking pot.
Bottle shop Off-licence or liquor store.
Bugs Moreton Bay bug – type of crayfish indigenous to southern Queensland.
Bushtucker Traditional foods once eaten by the Aboriginal population: witchetty grubs, kangaroo and much, much more.
Chook Chicken.
Cut lunch Sandwiches.
Damper Soda bread cooked in a pot on embers.
Grog Alcoholic drink, usually beer.
Slab 24-can carton of beer.
Snag Sausage.
Stubby Small bottle of beer.
Tinnie Can of beer, or a small aluminium boat.
Yabbie Freshwater crayfish.

Bushtucker pies

A sartorial glossary

Akubra Wide-brimmed felt hat; a brand name.
Blundstones Leather, elastic-sided workmen’s boots. Often shortened to “blundies”.
Budgie smugglers Men’s tight-fitting Speedos.
Cozzies Bathers, swimmers, togs; swimming costume.
Daks or strides Trousers/pants.
Moleskins Strong cotton trousers worn by bushmen.
Singlet Sleeveless cotton vest. The archetypal Australian singlet, in navy, is produced by Bonds.
Skivvy Polo neck.
Thongs Flip-flops or sandals.

A short guide to insults

Bushwhacker Someone lacking in social graces, a hick.
Dag Nerd.
Dill Idiot.
Drongo Fool.
Gutless wonder Coward.
Hoon A yob, delinquent.

Melbourne beach huts

A short guide to compliments

Beaut! or You beauty! Exclamation of delight.
Bonzer Good, a good thing.
Mate A sworn friend – one you’d do anything for – as essential as beer to the Australian stereotype.
Spunk Attractive or sexy person of either gender (but generally a young man); as in “what a spunk!” Can also be used as an adjective: spunky.

Weird and wonderful

Buckley’s No chance; as in “hasn’t got a Buckley’s”.
Burl Give it a go; as in “give it a burl”.
Like a shag on a rock Out on a limb.
She’ll be apples Everything will work out fine.
To come the raw prawn To try and deceive or make a fool of someone.
Warm fuzzies Feeling of contentment.

The Rough Guide to Australia

 

Explore more of Australia with the Rough Guide to AustraliaBook hostels, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

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