Aussie Slang

I thought I would help out a new reader of my blog and have a bit of fun at the same time.

For the Australians that read my blog (no matter where you live), what are some of the best Australian sayings, words, slang or phrases that you think are unique to our country?  And for the non-Australians that read my blog, have I said things in my posts that have left you scratching your head?  Thinking WTF is she talking about?  Or better still, for non-Australians living in Australia (Tim!) what are the words, slang and phrases you’ve been chuckling to yourself about?

List them all in the comments!  Better still, if you find pictures, or videos, post them as well!



  1. I’ll kick us off with:

    Aussie – pronounced Ozzie, not Aww-see as most Americans say! Hopefully this one is self explanatory.

    Built Like A Brick Shithouse – a big strong bloke

    Cactus – dead or not working, ie “my microwave is cactus”

    Heaps – a lot, ie “thanks heaps”… I never knew this was Aussie slang til I went overseas and had this pointed out to me

    Tall Poppy Syndrome – Australian’s tendency to criticise successful people

    Pot – 285ml glass of beer in Victoria (and I think maybe QLD too?), it’s called a “Middy” in NSW.

    Wagging – to truant, ie “I’m wagging school today”

  2. Well this is just great, Justine! We never expected all this! You are FANTASTIC!

    I have already read a couple of your recent blog posts, and already I am coming across some special words. Common words that I’ll bet you think everyone in the whole world uses. Not so! The child “gagging” to go to school concerned me. I hope he really wasn’t! 🙂 [Here I am guessing “eager”.] And the only “gob” to an American is wet and sticky, like bubble gum or grease. What you really meant to say, of course, was “pie-hole”, right? Also, I am confused by the word “powerpoint.” It didn’t seem as if you were talking about the computer program that comes with Microsoft’s Office. It is, I think, either a wall receptacle or a light switch, right? Not sure which one.

    This is GREAT! I love it!

    By the way, I don’t know if you invited your readers to visit our little blog or not, but, if so, I need to give a word of warning: the Brits can get pretty “randy” over there at times. You seem like a pretty high-class lady, so I don’t want to get you into trouble here. I have long ago given up trying to control those people. Witness the most recent post by our terrible “Lord Likely” on the British euphemisms for, ummm, self-gratification. And our darling demure Cheshire Cat Claire, whose scholarly report on–sheesh–how should I say this?–the names of the various body parts and their intended uses….I guess that’s close enough. Appeared only a couple of days ago. The comments, of course, are much more entertaining than any of the actual posts. If you have the stomach for it, you might want to eavesdrop on what those proper English ladies talk about. I wouldn’t recommend it for your male readers though–pretty tough stuff!

    One of the things we have found interesting to do is to make up little stories using the list of words we have discovered, so that we can “teach” context. You might find that tactic amusing here as well. It provides many more laughs than simply compiling a list of words, we’ve found. Of course, I have also found that the British are not above taking advantage of this poor ignorant American’s delicate sensibilities either. That is to say, “They lie a lot.” That makes matters worse when you are trying to learn, as I am.

    Well, here I’ve gone on and on again, Justine, and I promised you I wouldn’t. I’m not here so much to promote my own blog as I am to thank for your unexpected but much-appreciated generosity. I hope we all get to know each other better over time!

    Toodle Pip!

    PS–Brick shithouse doesn’t mean a big bloke in America–it refers to what a marvelously curvaceous young lady is built like. Not the same at all!

  3. Correct, gagging is used to mean ‘eager’; gob is used to describe someone’s mouth (or pie-hole as you say), and a powerpoint is like the socket in the wall that you plug your electrical appliances into.

    If any of my other posts have ‘slang’ in them that you want clarified, let me know!

  4. Hahaha. I love it, Justine. These are really funny. I wonder if I can get away with some of these around here!

    Relax Max – I think the American term you’re referring to that translates into a “marvelously curvaceous young lady” is BRICK HOUSE… made famous by The Commodores. I think the “shit” might flip that meaning around entirely. 😉


    Then you’d be wrong, my friend.

    And Max predates those Commodores by many many years, I’m afraid.

    I can only suggest you visit an American blog and make the comment:

    “I am trying to find some American slang. Can anyone help me complete this sentence?:

    That girl looks fantastic! She is built like a brick ________.”

    Trust me, the word you think I am misusing will be provided 100% of the time.

    Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  6. Or you can save yourself time and just Google the term “built like a brick shithouse”–

    I did. 🙂

  7. Seems like it wasn’t always used in that way in America though, I did your suggested search and found:

    You wouldn’t ask this question if you’d ever really listened to a man try to compliment a woman. (“Of course I like your outfit, honey. It really de-emphasizes your butt.”) But you have a point. When one contemplates the comely female form, “brick shithouse” is not the first phrase that springs to mind.

    For a broader perspective I consulted what is surely the definitive treatment of the subject, The Vanishing American Outhouse by Ronald S. Barlow (1989). This unpretentious volume has everything you’d want to know about outhouses and then some. (Sample: “State of Maine outhouses are among the sturdiest ever built,” accompanied by a photo of a particularly handsome albeit nonbrick example. Something for the New England tourism bureau to think about now that New Hampshire has lost the Old Man of the Mountain.)

    The book includes photos of privies constructed using a wide range of materials, including clapboard (by far the commonest), plywood, stucco, concrete, cedar shakes, logs, corrugated tin, scrap lumber, and of course brick. The brick shithouses are generally pretty impressive architecturally, but not even the most obtuse male is likely to see the spitting image of his lady love therein–not unless she’s got a physique like a defensive lineman. They are, however, well built, especially in contrast to the flimsy wooden variety, and it’s strictly in this narrow sense that the phrase is usually applied to a woman. (To quote the relevant Commodores tune: “The lady’s stacked and that’s a fact.”)

    You may think: I’ve heard of people being deaf to secondary associations, but this takes the cake. Well, no. The guy who first used “built like a brick shithouse” to describe a woman with a nice figure wasn’t thickheaded, just a smart-ass. From the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang we learn that: (a) the phrase and its euphemistic variants date back at least to 1903; (b) said variants replace “shithouse” with switch shanty, schoolhouse, slaughterhouse, or backhouse, among others; and (c) all were originally–and more sensibly–applied to men of solid or powerful build. When said of women, one 1938 source notes, the phrase usually meant a “heavy, cloddish, sexually unappetizing female.” But even in the 1930s a few wiseguys were applying it to attractive women, and in the U.S. that usage has now supplanted all others.

    But not everywhere. In Australia and the UK, at least, “built like a brick shithouse” still most commonly refers to well-built men. Therefore be advised to use caution in tossing this phrase about whilst abroad; you may be taking your life in your hands.

  8. If I am ever lucky enough to go abroad–especially to your own delightful Southern Land–I shall indeed keep track of my shithouses. You are nothing if not thorough, Justine. Yes, I read it all. Couldn’t find the slightest flaw, except perhaps that you seem to know too much about the Commodores. I find that somewhat weird. Can’t explain why. At any rate, you may be sure I’ll keep my female shithousing confined to these shores. (Never heard the term used in a derogatory way, btw.) I continue to browse your fascinating archives and collect interesting items. Will wait to hit you with them all at one time rather than piecemeal. Thanks for not tossing me overboard. I appreciate your tolerance. (And i think your readers are ever so cool as well! 🙂

  9. Justine, I know I promised I would wait until I had several words to ask you about, but I have come across something that just can’t wait. One of the things I just read was your resolution to “do pilates until I fall pregnant…” Oh, Justine! Honey, that’s not how you get pregnant! Surely Aussies and American women can’t be THAT different! Oh, no–you simply MUST get that big guy, the one with the gob we were talking about, involved in this project of yours. Truly.

    Now, mind you, I’m not saying the Pilates machine can’t be somehow involved in the process; it probably can be inventively incorporated. It may be somewhat uncomfortable, of course. But that part is strictly up to you. But your man REALLY needs to be a part of this thing you are attempting. This is important. Don’t put it off. 🙂

    PS-Yes, I knew what you meant. I just couldn’t resist… 🙂

  10. So I’ve been living in the States for a year now and I had a fair few suggestions. Then I hit up a few websites and found a few more. Here’s a bunch of terms that I’ve either used, or commonly heard.

    A over T – “arse over tits”. Used to refer to someone falling over in a spectacular fashion. Example usage: “My bike went into a ditch and I fell A over T.”

    Barbeque or BBQ – means a completely different thing in America. In Australia this refers to the speedy cooking of meat on an outdoor hotplate or grill. In America this refers to slow cooking, usually via smoke.
    Bloke – This is older Ocker slang for an Australian male. You probably wouldn’t hear the term used unless you travelled to the outback, however.
    Boot – the rear storage in a vehicle. In America this is referred to as the trunk.
    Bogan – a comparable term in America is “trailer-park trash”.
    Bond – the security deposit you put down on a new rental apartment. In America, “bond” refers to what Australians would call “bail”: money used to secure a felon’s temporary release.

    Cark it – to die.
    Cheers – thanks!
    Colder than a nun’s left tit – it’s rather cold
    Cossie or cozzie – a swimming costume.

    Dag – can have either an endearing or disparaging meaning, although is usually used for a likable fellow. However, bear under advisement that Its literal meaning is a piece of shit that hangs off a sheep’s bum.
    Doona – a bed quilt usually filled with feathers. Called a duvet in England and the US.
    Dunny – toilet or lavatory

    Esky – a portable insulated container for keeping food or drink cool.

    4WD (Four wheel drive) – In America, these are referred to as Suburban Utility Vehicles, or SUVs.
    Fanny – vagina. Note that in the US this refers to the buttocks. So you can see why we think your ‘fanny packs’ are amusing.
    five finger discount – shoplifting
    Franger – a condom.

    G’day – hello. Shortened form of “Good Day”. Like Bloke and Shiela, this is an older kind of Ockerism that isn’t really used often these days in the major Australian cities.
    Goog – an egg. Pronounciation: same as if you are saying “good”, just replace the last letter.
    Grill – this is referred to as broil in American English.

    Have a burl or Have a crack or Have a go – to attempt to do something considered a little difficult.
    Having a laugh – read as “surely you’re joking/being facetious”
    Holy snapping duckshit – Exclamation of surprise, fear, or shock.
    Hum dinger – something excellent, or impressive. Example usage: “That thunderstorm last night was a real hum dinger.”

    I kid you not or I shit you not – I am telling you the truth.

    Jack – to be sick and tired of something or doing something. Example usage: “I’m jack of this essay I’m writing.”
    Jumper – You put one on to keep yourself warm in winter. I believe the term is sweatshirt in the US.


    Lounge – synonym for sofa or couch

    Mate – a good friend.
    Minced meat – referred to as either ground or hamburger meat in the US.

    Nappy – diaper
    No worries – a reply to someone saying “thank you”
    No wucken furries – Spoonerism of the above. (If you don’t know what a spoonerism is, “Cunning Stunts” is another well known spoonerism).

    Outback – generally used to refer to the central, largely uninhabited part of Australia.
    Out in the middle of Woop Woop – far, far away
    Out in the sticks – an area away from civilisation or major settlements. (“Sticks”, in this case, referring to trees).

    Pash – French kissing.
    Pissing down – raining, very heavily.
    Poof or Poofter – a homosexual male. Like many Australianisms, this can be used nicely or vindictively. Used on your friends, this might carry as much weight as, say, bastard; used on an enemy it can carry the gravitas of a much more offensive word.
    Pull the pin – to stop an activity, or withdraw support
    Pulling my leg or To pull someone’s leg – see “Having a laugh”


    Rice Bubbles – Called Rice Krispies in the US.

    SFA or Sweet Fanny Adams or Sweet Fuck All – nothing. Example usage: “I’m doing sweet fuck all today mate.”
    Sheila – an Australian female. Like bloke, this has dropped out of common usage.
    Sickie – a day taken as sick leave from work. Usually taken when a person isn’t actually sick, but would like to attend a sporting match or somesuch.
    Singlet – a sleeveless cotton undershirt.
    Spit the dummy – get very upset about something.
    Spunky – formerly meant attractive, although I don’t know if this still holds these days since the common meaning for “spunk” is semen.
    Stunned mullet – used to describe a person whose mouth is hanging agape, or who is otherwise unresponsive to outside stimuli.
    Sweater – see Jumper

    Ta – thanks!
    Tailgate – to drive too closely to the vehicle in front of you. Has a completely different meaning to the American usage, where a tailgate party is a social event held on or around the open trunk/boot of a vehicle.
    Taking the piss – see “Having a laugh”. (This one is British, but it’s understood in Australia).
    Throw another shrimp on the barbie – It’s a little-known fact that Aussies actually do say this, despite the fact that shrimp are actually called prawns in Australia.
    Tightarse – someone who is very frugal (won’t easily part with money).
    Tosser – one who masturbates, used as a derogatory term like “bastard”.

    Useless as tits on a bull – Completely useless
    Ute – in America this is called a “utility vehicle” or simply a “pickup truck”.


    Wanker – (British in origin). See tosser.
    Wog – a derogatory term for a foreigner, especially one of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern extraction.


    Yakka – hard manual labour.
    Yonks – a long period of time.


    If you still want more, this site seemed to have some fairly accurate pieces of slang: . There were other sites but they had some truly strange expressions. Although I did run across this gem:

    “a bit more choke and you would have started” – a statement said to somebody who has just passed wind in public rather loudly.



  11. This is incredible, Brett! This is so far beyond my expectations! You are so thorough. I feel a little guilty–maybe I should take you on as a partner in writing this book I’m trying to produce; with your discipline and my drinking ability, we could have it cranked out in not time at all! (Just kidding–I don’t drink anymore. Maybe that’s why I write so much.)

    I copied and pasted your list, and will be sure to steal much of it. Perhaps someone will come along and fill in some of the missing letters. I’ll keep watch. Ha!

    And Justine–you’re a doll! I can’t thank you enough for letting me “five-finger discount” off your super blog! (The British on my blog would have called what I did “half-inching” it. 🙂 Half-inching = Five Fingering = Ripping it off = …well, you get it.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if most of the good Aussie slang I find comes from a “bloke” who is in America? ‘T’would serve this slacker right! 🙂

  12. I’m in the US and tailgate can also mean riding someone’s bumper – real tailgate parties are where the beer was stored in the bed of the truck and the tailgate was dropped to access it (yes, I am in redneck country) :p but the preps have taken it over now and use it to mean parties behind the soccer van…. *rolls eyes*

  13. Here is a nice site for Slang Dictionary. It is free and very useful…

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