Australian Slang, Explained

Tuesday, April 272 min read

Yes, we technically speak the same language as Aussies, but if you’ve ever been Down Under, you’ll quickly realize they have their own unique lexicon, complete with quirky slang words. Brush up on your Aussie vocab with this fun guide to Australian slang.  


If you’re meeting up for a midday lunch or beer, you’ll probably greet your table mate with “good arvo” (pronounced ah-vo). Add an “s” to the beginning, as in “s’arvo,” and you’ll be saying “this afternoon.”  


Are you lying, or are you telling the ridgy-didge? This funny-sounding word is slang for "truth."  


When you cuddle up under the covers at night, you’ll be pulling up your doona — or what North Americans know as a duvet or comforter.  


This word, which rhymes with "shockers," is used to describe anything that’s jam-packed or full. For example, you might say, “The subway was chockers on the way to work this morning.”  


It’s pronounced like the word "gala," but it has a far less elegant definition. Aussies use the term "galah" to refer to a fool or silly person, after a dim-witted bird of the same name.  


In North America, slang for sandwiches is often "sammies," but Down Under, it’s "sanger," "sambo," or "sambie."


Get into a bit of a fender bender with your car on the way to work? You’ve had a bingle, mate.  


When you’re heading to the beach, you need to be equipped with an esky, or what we’d call a cooler, ideal for loading up drinks and frosty treats.


This one is slang for a deep kiss, and likely stems from a short form of the word "passionate."

Fair Dinkum

You may use this strange little expression in the same way you’d have an exchange of “Really?” — “Honestly!” As in, “Fair dinkum?” “Fair dinkum!”


Pick either spelling; these two words are pronounced the same, and definitely have the same meaning. They’re nicknames for a women’s swimsuit.  


There’s a certain singsong rhythm to a lot of Australian speech, and part of it comes from Aussies' affinity for taking components of words and making them into cute rhymes. "Trakky-daks" stems from "trackpants."


If something seems truly unbelievable or absurd, you might proclaim it’s downright furphy!


Australians love shortening words — "Chrissy" is Christmas, "prezzies" are presents — and that extends to brand names, too. If you’re heading for a bite at the Golden Arches, aka McDonald’s, you might invite someone to join you at Macca’s.


To round things off, let’s say goodbye, Aussie-style, with this quirky expression.

Photo credit: Luca Abad Lopez/ Unsplash

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