Australian Slang Words

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Traveling the globe can be challenging…especially when it comes to language barriers. Thinking of heading to Australia? Sure, they speak English down there, but just like anywhere else, they also have slang words that often make no sense to those of us not from there. Here’s a quick Aussie language lesson to get you ready for a trip down under.

1. G’day Mate – One of the quintessential Aussie slang terms, this one’s easy, it simply means, “Good day friend.” Pretty much every Australian will call you mate, and yes you might giggle each time they say it.

2. How you goin’? – This one throws many people off. A common greeting, however, if you break it down it is quite confusing. A mix of “How are you doing,” “How can I help you” and “Where are you going?” You may be wondering whether to answer “Good,” “To the store,” or “Nowhere? I’m standing right here.” In most cases the correct answer is simply, “Good, thanks for asking.”

3. Arvo – It is almost impossible to guess what arvo means, but it is an abbreviation for “afternoon.” Example of use: “I’ll see you this arvo.”

4. Bathers – This one goes back to old English when people use to call swimsuits “bathing costumes.” Australia shorted that to “bathers,” however they might also be called “swimmers,” “cozzies” or “togs.”

5. Blind – This is typically used to describe people that are blackout drunk. “That guy is so blind” or “I was so blind last night.”

6. Flat – While flats in England mean apartments, Australians often use the word in replace of the word “dead.” Most commonly you will hear this when talking about their cell phones. “My battery has gone flat.” They don’t use this term when a person has passed away so make sure not to make that mistake.

7. Bottle-o – A slang word like this can seem confusing, but once you hear what it means, you can piece together how they came up with it. A bottle-o is quite simply a liquor store, where they sell “bottles of” alcohol.

8. Reckon – A word we have in English, but it’s much more commonly used in Australia. If you used this term in North America, you may think the speaker was a cowboy, but in Australia it’s just seen as normal. Example of use: “I reckon we should go see a movie.”

9. Heaps – Another word all English speakers have, but don’t use nearly as often as Australians. In place of “a lot,” a use would be: “I liked that heaps.”

10. Keen – Again same thing as reckon, and heaps. In North America, “keen” is hardly even used. In Australia, they are keen on everything. Example of use: “I’m keen to drink some beers tonight.”

11. Mate – A friend, or just a regular person. Example: “Steve, you’re my best mate!”

12. Powepoint – A power/electrical outlet.

13. Footy – The Australian Football League (AFL), or just the sport of Australian rules football.

14. Schooner, Pot or Pint – The size of a beer based on each state, so be sure to double check the proper usage for where you are visiting so you can order correctly at the bar.

15. Maccas – A Classic dining establishment we know here as McDonalds…if for some odd reason you decide you need to visit one while down under. Or you can use it in a joke. Example: “Hey, I’m starved for some Maccas!”

16. Thongs – This means an entirely different thing in Australia than in the US. So if you hear someone say, “grab your thongs,” they are referring to your flip-flops.”

17. Fair Dinkum – Something that is true or genuine. Example: “This is a fair dinkum footy bar.”

18. Any unidentifiable word ending in –O or –Y – Chances are if you hear a short semi-word ending in -o or -y, it’s an abbreviation. Aussies love to shorten their words, so concentrate on the first part of the word and decipher what the long form could be from there.

Main Image Photo Credit: © iStock/J_Knaupe

About the Author: David Duran is a Brooklyn-based luxury, hospitality, culinary, and overall freelance travel writer who contributes to such publications as Fodor’s, Travel + Leisure, Destinations Weddings & Honeymoon, and Caribbean Travel + Life, among others. When not traveling 20-25 days a month for his work, he spends his free time planning more travel! To read some of his work, check out his online portfolio, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @mrdavidduran.