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Australian Slang: A Unique Way of Saying and Describing Things

Australian Slang: A Unique Way of Saying and Describing Things
on January, 21 2013

Travelers to foreign countries usually rely on a traveler’s guide to tour a new country with ease, and a phrase book is an invaluable basic source of information when it comes to communicating in a foreign language. However, there will be instances when you would hear words that seem very unusual and cannot be found in a phrasebook. Most of these are slang words, like the Australian Slang, that are unique to the country and its people. With globalization and migration, some words might be familiar to you, although the meaning might be vague.

Australian Slang: Shortened Words

Australians have a unique habit of shortening words. Some speculate that it had to do with the country’s past history of being populated by convicts from England, who would not want others to know what they are talk about among fellow migrants. Here are some of them:

Afternoon – arvo
Aggressive – agro
Australia/Australian – Aussie
Biscuit – bickie
Barbecue – Barbie (not the doll)
Bottle-O – liquor shop
Cardigan – cardie
Chrissy – Christmas
Chewie – chewing gum
Ciggie – cigarette
Comfy – comfortable
Compo – worker’s compensation
Cuppa – cup of tea
Deli – delicatessen
Garbo – garbage collector (not the actress)
Hollies – holidays (not the English pop group of the 60s)
Hottie – hot water bottle (you might have thought it’s an attractive person)
Journo – journalism/journalist
Kiddy – kindergarten
Lipstick – lippie
Mosquito – mossie
Magpie – Maggie
Mushroom – mushie
Politician – pollie
Postman – postie
Sunglasses – sunnies
Servo – service station (gas)
Ta – thank you
University – uni


If you have seen Crocodile Dundee, then you’ve heard this phrase,”G’day, mate!” or just plain, “G’day.” This means “Hello.” The usual response here is, “Not bad, mate.” This means Fine, thank you. “Cheers, mate” is the same as the English word, Thank You, while “No worries” or No drama” translates to “You’re welcome” in Australian slang. If you notice, the word “mate” is often used. It actually means someone, a person, usually a male, It is a very useful term when you do not know or have forgotten the person’s name.

When you say “sorry” to an Australian, most likely you will hear, “You’re right.” This is their response, meaning “That is okay.” Goodbye for an Aussie could be, “See ya later,” “Take it easy,” or “Hoo roo.”

Eating and Drinking

When an Aussie friend tells you to “grab a feed,” it means to “get something to eat.” While is a fast food outlet, when you order “to go,” Aussies say “take away” while a take away from a restaurant is a “nosebag.” If you hear an Australian say he’s “pissed” it does not mean he’s annoyed or mad, it actually means he is “drunk.” “Brekkie” means breakfast; “dinnies” is dinner and “tucker’ is food.


In Australian, any place outside the major towns or cities is called the “bush.” The desert areas in inland Australia are called the “outback.” For them, a wildfire is called a “bushfire.”

In parting, you’d hear them say, “I’ll give you a tingle this arvo” which translates to American English as “I’ll give you a ring (call) this afternoon.” And so, cheerio…toodle-oo. (It means goodbye).

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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