This is not a blog on how to speak with an Aussie accent. This is a blog on how to master the good old Strayan slang. So work on your Aussie accent and then come to this blog for tips on how to sound like a true Aussie. Start with the ‘for beginners’ section if you just want quick hacks, but if you want to fool real Aussies into thinking you’re one of them read the other two sections.
At this point you may be wondering why I, of all people, am doing an blog on Aussie slang. My American accent would probably have you thinking I should be writing a blog on American slang. Let me assure you that I grew up in the Land Down Under, I know all the slang, and my American roots means I have had the unique opportunity to spot the difference in slang language. With the help of my father (and family) I have put together a nice little guide on how to speak like an Aussie.
In the land down under we like to shorten everything we can! In fact some words such as ‘dero’ have always been said as the shortened version in my life. I legite had no idea it was actually short for something. I just thought that was the whole word. And to be honest often these shortened words do start to take on a new meaning of their own, thus actually becoming a separate word. The word ‘suss’ is a great example of this. Not sure what I mean by the word dero or suss? Well keep reading!
If you want my beginners advice on how to master Aussie slang follow these three easy steps:
- Pick a word
- Shorten it (often to just the first syllable)
- Add an ‘o’ or ‘i/ie/y/ee’ sound to the end.
Here are some examples:
Barbie = Barbecue
Dero = Derelict. Usually said with the word ‘heaps’ in front, as in he was ‘heaps dero.’
Unco = Uncoordinated
Devo = Devastated. Also usually said with the word ‘heaps’ in front, as in ‘heaps devo’.
Uni = University
Chrissy = Christmas
Rego = Registration
Footy = Football (Aussie Rules Football not American Football)
Vegies = Vegetables
Boyfie = Boyfriend
Girlfie = Girlfriend
Mossie = Mosquito
Cocky = Cockatoo (type of bird)
Budgie = Budgerigar (type of bird)
Sunnies = Sunglasses
Agro = Aggressive
Breakie = Breakfast
Brickie = Bricklayer
Postie = Postman
Muso = Muscisian
Vego = Vegetarian
Mayo = Mayonnaise
Blowie = Blowfly
Tradie = Tradesman
Lippy = Lipstick
Then there are the hybrid words. These words still end with an ‘o’ or ‘ee’ sound and are short for something but they are actually a word used to shorten two or more words combined. For example:
Fairo = Fair enough
Righto = Your right/ This is right/ That was right/ True/ Correct
Rightio = Means the same as righto. Also one of my favourites because it has both the ‘o and ‘ee’ sounds.
Povo = Poverty stricken. Usually said with the word ‘heaps’ again, as in ‘heaps povo.’
Smoko = Going for a smoke. Could be used to ask where the ‘smoko’ is, as in where can you smoke/where is the smoke room?
Bottleo = Bottle shop
Ambo = Ambulance workers
Metho = Metholated Spirits
Trackies = Track suit pants
Truckie = Truck driver
Garbo = Garbage collector (this is an unusual one because we say ‘rubbish’ not ‘garbage’ or ‘trash’.
Servo = Service station
Sickie = Usually said as ‘pulling a sickie’, meaning they are faking being sick to get out of doing something.
Chewie = Chewing gum
Salvos = Salvation Army (charity organisation)
Surfies = Someone who surfs a lot
Pokies = Gambling machines
Relli = Relative
Rello = Also means Relative
We don’t just shorten words we shorten names too. In Aussie land we often refer to our mates by their shortened last name. My last name, Walding, becomes Waldo. My boyfriends last name, Oxenham, could become Oxenie, but it is more likely to become Oxi. Oxenie has too many syllables.
You may ask at this point how do I know whether the word should have an ‘o’ or ‘ee’ sound at the end. As an Aussie I can feel the word. I sense what sort of ending it should have. My advice to Non-Aussies would be to say the word out loud with an ‘o’ and then an ‘ee’ sound. Pick whichever is easier to pronounce. We’re all about making things easy.
Now it’s true that not all words can be shortened. Honestly I can’t really give any advice on how to know if a word can or cannot be shortened. It’s quite random. For example we don’t shorten the word ‘formation’ to ‘formo.’ Or ‘fireman’ to ‘firey.’ As an Aussie we just know what words are appropriate to shorten. However, if you just start shortening words and adding the ‘o’ or ‘ee’ sound your already doing good. And, honestly, the word ‘formo’ doesn’t even sound that ridiculous. If you said ‘formo’ I would think it a little odd, but wouldn’t question it.
Now we start to move on to some words that are shortened but not necessarily ending in ‘o’ or ‘ee.’ We have:
Gday = Good day
Maccas = McDonalds
Xmas = Christmas
Chook = Chicken
PJs = Pajamas
HJs = Hungry Jacks (called Burger King in America)
Crock = Could mean crockadile or the shoe brand.
Spag Bol =Spagehti Bolagnaise
Straya = Australia. This is how the older generation naturally pronounce Australia (I’m not kidding), but if someone from a younger generation say Straya they would be someone who is heaps dero.
Ranga = Someone with orange hair, meaning they looking like an Orangutan.
Roo = Kangaroo
Kanga = Kangaroo
Cab Sav = Cabernet Sauvignon (type of wine)
Crook = Ill/sick, as in I am quite crook
Daks = Meaning trackie dacs, akak track suit pants
Carn = Come’on. You would yell this while cheering on a team, i.e. ‘CARN ADELAIDE.’ (Remember we don’t pronounce the letter ‘r’. So it sounds like ‘cahn’.)
Pash = Kissing passionately
No advice on how to know if a word has this sort of ending, just add these words to your memory bank.
Alrighty now your starting to get a feel for how we talk. Let’s move on to some of the more complicated speech. Here comes that word ‘suss’ again. Suss is actually short for suspicious. You could say something like ‘yeah that was heaps suss’ or ‘he was heaps suss looking.’ However as I mentioned earlier the word suss also has its own separate meaning. It can also mean to ‘check out/look at/ investigate’. In Australia you will often hear people say ‘I’ll suss it out’, meaning ‘I’ll check it out.’
There is also this complicated word we use ALL THE TIME! It’s ‘yeah-nah.’ Confused? I would be. Yeah-nah can mean yes, or no, depending on the context. If the word is said by it’s self then it most likely means no. For example if you said to someone “want to go grab a bite to eat?’ They may responded with ‘yeah-nah.’ This means no. If you were to say to someone “I heard you went on a holiday, did you have a good time?’ They might say ‘yeah-nah, it was great.’ This means ‘Yes, it was great.’ Yes I know its confusing. I didn’t even realise us Aussies did this until I went to America and confused the heck out of my cousins. Just try to sense whether the person looks hesitant or open. Hesitant = yeah-nah means no, and open = yeah-nah means yes.
Here is another great one ‘as’. We often finish a sentence with the word ‘as’. For example ‘it was funny as’, ‘it was far as’ or ‘ he was dero as’. I discovered this one when I was telling a story to my wonderful cousin, Austin, in America. I told a great story while he listened to me intently. I promptly finished it by say ‘yeah it was funny as’. He stared at me wide eyed waiting for the ending of my sentence. When I said nothing he looked confused and said “funny as…” and I said “yes funny as.” More confusion. He then frowned and said “funny as what?” and I said “no that’s it, just funny as.” He frowned even harder and then all of a sudden it clicked, I made zero sense. So don’t be thrown off by mid-sentence endings. Saying ‘funny as’ is a way of emphasizing it really was VERY FUNNY.
Also Reckon is another word used ALL THE TIME. It means ‘I think.’ So you would say ‘I reckon we should do this,’ or ‘I reckon that’s true.’ So don’t ever say ‘I think.’ Always say ‘I reckon.’
Wooohooo if you’ve made it this far you’re doing well. Just a few more things to learn and you’ll be ready to blend in with us Aussies.
Now in this section we come to some classic Aussie sayings.
She’ll be right mate = everything will be fine
Chuck a Uie = Make a U-turn
Working flat out for your country = taking a nap
Dead Horse = Tomato Sauce, aka Ketchup
Ooaroo = Goodbye
Mad as a cut snake = Very angry or crazy (maybe both)
No worries = No problem
Rug up = bundle up/ wear warm things
Whats the haps? = Whats been happening?
Load of crock = Everything is untrue or everything they are saying is false
Full as a goose = Very full/ eaten too much
Porkie Pie = Lie
Snag on the barbie = Sausage on the barbecue
Never-Never or Whoop Whoop = Outback/ Middle of nowhere
Shark biscuit = Someone in the water looking very much like a shark may attack them
Blowing froth off a beer = drinking your beer very slowly
Bent as a banana = Dishonest person
Fast as a hack rabbit = very fast
Dead battery = flat battery
Some of these sayings I believe, originated in Ireland. We had quite a few Irish people immigrate to Australia. It’s possible that these saying could be found in America too, but Australia was founded much later than America and is a smaller country. Thus Irish immigrants and Irish slang became apart of our country and vocabulary quite rapidly. I would imagine in America the slang did not disperse or catch-on quite as easily.
Feel like you’ve committed all the above sayings to memory? CONGRATULATIONS! Looking to expand your Aussie vocabulary? Why not try saying some of these common Aussie words:
Mate = friend or if in a physical fight your opponent will often call you mate
Lad = guy friend
Sheila = girl friend (not usually said these days)
Chemist = DON’T SAY DRUG STORE!!! You may end up visiting the police.
Oi = Excuse me, hello, stop, watch out, really it could mean anything depending on the context.
Bathers = Swim suit
Thongs = Flip Flops
Bloke = Male acquaintance you like
Bl**dy Oath = Wow/ really/ no way
‘Em = Them
Coppers = Police
Jumper = Hooded sweat shirt
Uggs = Ugg boots
Bludger = Someone who skips school or work (usually school)
Ferral = Disgusting
Grog = Alcohol
Mobile/ Mobile Phone = Cell Phone
Petrol = Gas
Esky = Cooler
Loo = Bathroom
Dunny = Bathroom
Toilet = Bathroom
Ace = Doing great
Buggered = Physically tired
Cark it = Broken/ Dead
Car Park = Parking lot
Footpath = Side walk
Docket = Receipt
Fairy Floss = Cotton Candy
Jelly = Jello
Jam = Jelly
Op Shop = Thrift shop
Sunbake = Sun bathe
Bogan = Dero and bogan mean similar things, but they are different. Dero would be someone who is on drugs and unhygenic. Bogan is more like someone who doesn’t try hard, dresses slack and drinks a lot of alcohol.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
Don’t EVER say ‘root.’ Americans often say they ‘root’ for their team. In Australia this means the F word. I’m not kidding. Let me put it in context. It’s quite possible you would hear a bogan say “yeah I rooted her last night.” It doesn’t sound nice does it? Most people would never talk like that, but I assure you we all know what the word ‘root’ means. So just stay away from this word entirely, please!!! If you do choose to say the word ‘root’ let the eyes of this koala stare into your soul!
Also this is more on the accent side of things but I really feel like I need to include it in this blog. In America there is a common misconception that we put a letter ‘r’ at the end of the word ‘no.’ Many times I have heard people say “what are you saying? How do you say no? Is it nar? It’s nar! I’m saying it nar, nar, nar!” I stare at them stunned for a moment before jumping in desperately trying to help the poor fellow. I usually rapidly say “OH NO it’s definitely not nar.” I am then shut down by a nearby American who usually slaps the one saying ‘nar’ on the back stating “you’re saying it! You sound just like an Aussie.” I am then completely ignored and the American goes around saying nar beaming proudly.
Okay so American to American saying ‘nar’ somehow must sound like how Aussie’s say ‘no’, but American to Australian it sounds RIDICULOUS! Trust me! Think about it, we don’t pronounce the letter ‘r’ at all, in any words. For example ‘star’ becomes ‘stah.’ Why would be put a letter that we never pronounce on the end of a word for no reason? If you want to try and say ‘no’ like an Aussie here is my advice. Try and make the sound of the ‘o’ come from the back of the throat. When Americans so ‘no’ they almost turn their lips into a circle like they might be going to put a ‘w’ sound at the end. Australians don’t do this. Try not to move your lips too much, have the sound come from the back of the throat, and pronounce it nu-oh.
Or if you want to make everyone have a good laugh and put a smile on an Aussie’s face go ahead and say ‘nar.’ I can guarantee we will laugh! And don’t worry we will be laughing with you, not at you, because we are quite a friendly and welcoming bunch.
***Edit: Apparently we do call firemen fireys. Say what??? I know. So there you go. You probably can shorten almost any word and have it sound right.