Your Aussie Slang Crash Course

Australia may not be blessed with as many different accents as the UK, but they have certainly made up for it with their way of words. Even other native English speakers can be puzzled by some of the phrases and sayings that come out of Australians’ mouths – and that’s without the considering the cool accent.

So, to make your upcoming trip less awkward, here are the Aussie phrases and sayings you need to know, so you can converse like a local!

1. “We didn’t come here to meet spiders!”

This is the PG version of a similar saying that basically means the people who are present did not come here to waste time or mess around. They came here to get a job done. Example: Come on Phil, we didn’t come here to meet spiders, we came here to get groceries.

2. “Too Easy”

Too easy means something along the lines of that is easy to do and no problem (also known as no wakkas!). Example: After ordering a coffee, the waiter tells you that it is “too easy”.

3. “It’s Cactus”

This means it is dead or it has broken. It is most often used to refer to inanimate objects such as lawn mowers or vehicles. Example: Jon tried to fix the lawnmower all day but couldn’t, he has decided it is cactus.

4. “Heaps!”

A lot or many. One of the most common phrases in Australian slang English! Example: The city is crowded, there are heaps of people everywhere.

5. “Dunny”

Another name for the toilet or loo. Example: Andy was bursting to use the dunny but there were also lots of other people waiting.

6. “Sanga”

A sanga is another name for a sandwich but often used to refer to a sausage sandwich. Note also, democracy sausage, a hotdog served outside of voting booths on election days. Example: Make me a sanga too mate!

7. “Yeah, Nah, Yeah, Yeah, Nah”

A common way for Australians to confirm or deny something, and a great way to confuse foreigners. Listen out for the last word to work out which one it is (e.g. yeah, nah = no). Example: Want another beer John? Nah, yeah. I’ll shout them (shout them = buy them).

8. “Bubbler”

Another name for a water fountain, which will come in useful in the summer months! Example: Where is the nearest bubbler mate? I’m dying of thirst over here!

What Not to Say…
Some newcomers to Australia may have been fooled into thinking that Australians like to throw another shrimp on the barbie (BBQ). However, this is not true and was fabricated via an American advert. In fact, Australians do not say shrimp at all, unlike Americans, they call them prawns just like the British.

Avoid this if you want to make friends quickly!

One response to “Your Aussie Slang Crash Course”

  1. ‘Shrimp’ in Australia is only used rarely to refer to the actual creatures. ‘Put another shrimp on the barbie’ was Paul Hogan at his embarrassing paid-for worst – as you say just done for a successful US ad campaign. Australians cringe at the phrase.
    This page is only a small fraction of terms Aussies use, and mostly ones used less. ‘Mate’ is not there and would require its own page as its usage is very complex (good, bad, who says it to whom and in which context/gender etc. etc.).
    But if you have an accent, DO NOT use ‘mate’ with strangers like Aussies may do to you – it sounds forced, servile and ultimately embarrassing.
    I notice a lot of Indians new to Australia use the word ‘mate’ and Australians will cringe. Remember Australians hate all servility whereas for Indians it is caste-inbred and natural, so just don’t use the word at all until you a) speak with a full Australian accent, AND b) understand the word’s complex cultural nuances and can use it appropriately. Nothing grates an Australian more than a foreigner’s misuse of the word ‘mate’!

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