australian slang words

Australian Slang: 29 Words to Help You Chat with Australians

Did you know that the word “selfie” came from Australia?

You’re welcome, world.

We Australians—I mean, Aussies—love to abbreviate (shorten) our words.

After some research (which involved having a beer, barbie and saying “G’day” to some mates) I have come up with both the reason why we love abbreviations: We sound friendlier and more casual when we use short words.

Overall, Australians are very laid back and this shows when we speak.

Let’s have a look at some awesomely abbreviated Australian slang words!

Contents

1. Cuppa

This is the abbreviated form of the phrase “a cup of tea.” It’s very common to drink tea in Australia so this is one of the most common slang terms you will hear.

If you didn’t already know, the British colonized Australia. So, of course tea was brought over with the early settlers.

Now, imagine you’re inviting someone over. Your conversation in British English might sound like this:

Bill: Hello Harry, how are you?

Harry: Hello Bill. I’m fine. How are you?

Bill: Very good thanks. I was just calling to see if you would like to come over for a cup of tea?

Harry: That sounds great. I’ll be there in 15 minutes.

To Australians, that’s way too formal. Let’s pretend Bill and Harry are Australian. Have a look at the conversation below:

Bill: G’day mate!

Harry: G’day.

Bill: Would ya like to pop around for a cuppa?

Harry: Sure, mate. See ya in 15.

You’ll notice that we’ve abbreviated “good day” so it’s now “g’day,” and we usually say “ya” instead of “you.” “Pop around” is a casual way to say “come over.”

Thanks to all this casual language, the second conversation would make an Australian feel more comfortable and at ease.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t washed your hair or have food stains on your clothes. You’re only going around for a cuppa!

2. Macca’s

Macca’s is the abbreviated version of McDonald’s. To an Australian, pronouncing 3 syllables is too much effort. 2 syllables is much easier.

So, the next time your friend asks you to join them at Macca’s you know that they mean McDonald’s, the restaurant…not some man down the street called Macca.

3. Arvo

This comes from the word “afternoon.” If you say the word afternoon in your head, you will find that it also has 3 syllables! Well that’s too many!

2 syllables is better, quicker, easier…we just saved ourselves 2 seconds. That means we can go for a surf sooner.

In a sentence it looks like this:

See ya in the arvo – see you in the afternoon.

Wanna come over this arvo? – Would you like to come over this afternoon?

Whatcha doin’ this arvo? – What are you doing this afternoon?

What is important to understand is that Australians only speak like this. We don’t actually write things this way.

I have written out these words phonetically to help with pronunciation, but English learners must be aware that we never ever write out words this way. We must still pay attention to grammar and spelling rules when we write.

4. Straya

This one is easy to learn and even easier to pronounce. Most native English speakers will pronounce all the syllables in “Australia,” but we Aussies say “Straya” instead.

If you’re learning English, you’ll do the same thing. Pronouncing all the syllables in the word is the correct thing to do and you should keep doing it.

This word, along with the others on this list, is an exception for when you finally visit Straya.

You’ll need to be careful when you start talking with an Aussie—if you say “AU-STRA-LIA” they might make fun of your pronunciation (but in a nice way).

So, simply place the emphasis on the “S” and the “tray” sounds. It should sound like this: “Straaayah.

If you enjoy music and know a bit about it, the last sound of Straya rhymes with the note “lah” in the “do, re, mi, fa so lah, tee, do” scale.

5. Footy

Aussies love their footy! For us, footy is rugby.

We love it so much that there are 4 major types: Rugby Union, Rugby League, AFL and Touch football. Beyond these, there are even more way to play and leagues to join.

Don’t get confused with the other football. We call this soccer (like the Americans do).

So, if you hear someone mention the word footy, they’re talking about one of the types of football we play.

If you’re not sure what type they’re talking about, or you just have no idea what Australian football is, don’t be afraid to ask! Aussies love to talk about footy.

Ask a question about footy, and you’ll make a new Aussie friend who will spend hours telling you everything that happened in the last big footy games.

6. Biccy

If you’ve been talking about footy for hours and you’re starting to get hungry, ask your friend for a biccy! Biccy is short for biscuit. “Biccies” is the plural.

Be warned—in Australia, a biccy is many things. A biccy can be a cracker, cookie (American) or a plain, slightly sweet round snack you eat with your tea.

The most common biccies are Tim-Tams, Saos (not sweet), choc-chip biccies and Digestives (UK).

7. Choccy

Yum! Everyone loves chocolate, so here’s how you talk about it in Straya. Use the word choccy.

That way, if you don’t feel like a plain biccy, simply ask if they have a choccy biccy. That’s a chocolate biscuit!

8. Lappy

This abbreviation is more of a nickname. The original noun “laptop” has two syllables and so does the abbreviation, lappy.

The word doesn’t get much shorter, even though this is technically an abbreviation. Think of it as a cute name for your laptop!

9. Accadacca

ACDC is the most famous Australian band. Everyone in Australia knows about Accadacca!

I think this is the first band you’ll listen to as an Australian child. If you go to the pub, you’ll hear it. Actually, you’ll hear an Accadacca song almost everywhere you go when you visit Australia.

10. Devo

Devastated is often shortened to devo. In context, it would be used in this way:

The surf was bad this weekend. I was devo!

So, devo means just really upset. It’s an exaggeration used to strengthen how bad the situation was.

11. Defo

This word isn’t related to devo at all. This is the shortened version of “definitely.”

For example:

Do you guys want to go camping this weekend?

Defo! Let’s do it!

12. S’arvo

This word is an extension of arvo. It literally means “this afternoon.”

What are you up to s’arvo?

Nothing much.

13. Servo

Now, I bet you’ve heard the noun “gas station.” This is an American term.

In Australia we call it something completely different: a service station or (abbreviated) a servo.

Also, we don’t refer to gasoline as “gas” in Australia. We call it “petrol”…unless it’s diesel.

We often have a mini-market inside each gas station that sells food and offers other services.

So after you fill up your car with petrol, you can also buy milk, coffee, water, credit for your phone and maybe a latte. Sometimes you can even pay your bills.

This is why we call it a “service station” instead of “gas station,” because there are many services being offered here.

Of course, 4 syllables—ser-vice-sta-tion—is too much effort for us, so we have abbreviated it to servo.

14. Petty

This word is more common among younger people. So, after you go to the servo, you fill up your car with petty (petrol). Remember, petrol is what we call gasoline.

15. Bottle-o

This is the abbreviation for a bottle shop (liquor store).

16. Tinny

In Australia, many of our beers are sold in cans. We call these tins. So, when you go to the Bottle-o, have a look for the famous Toohey’s New or Victoria Bitter (VB) tinnys.

17. Coppa

A policeman or law enforcement officer.

It turns out that this isn’t really 100% Australian slang, as it has its roots in English slang.

Our version of the word is based on the English word “copper.” This derives from the verb “to cop” which means “to catch.” Americans also call police officers “cops.”

As the original white settlers in Australia were English convicts (criminals), the term copper probably came over from England.

Of course, with our accent and way with words, it sounds a little different in Australia. Nowadays, we say coppa all the time.

18. Tradie

The word tradie derives from the full word “tradesman” or “tradesperson”.

Tradesman/Tradesperson is a noun for all those people who work doing a trade, or a job that requires particular skills.

For example, electricians, plumbers and carpenters have trade jobs. Not just anybody can have one, you need to learn how first.

We call these skilled workers tradies.

19. Postie

This is simple: A postie is a postman/postwoman, someone who delivers our letters and parcels every day.

20. Garbo

This is short for garbage collector or garbage truck driver.

21. Muso

Anyone who plays in a band at a pub is referred to as a muso. Most of the time they get a small amount of money and free beer for performing at their local watering hole (pub).

22. Cabbie

A cabbie is a cab driver or taxi driver.

We usually refer to cabs as taxis in Australia. However, we prefer to use to noun cabbie for the taxi driver. Americans use this term as well.

23. Brickie

A brickie is a tradie (tradesperson) who works as a bricklayer. This type of skilled work involves laying bricks in floors, sidewalks and building walls.

24. Firey

This is a word for a firefighter.

25. Ambo

The abbreviation ambo is used to refer to both the ambulance (the vehicle) as well as the ambulance driver.

Don’t worry if you hear it and get confused. We tend to use this word to refer to both things interchangeably.

The last 4 abbreviations are nouns. As you know, nouns are “naming words.” Aussies have come up with quite a few terms that will have you laughing.

26. Facey

The shortened version of Facebook. You’ll probably hear teenagers refer to it as Facey.

Did ya see that new photo on Facey?

Yeah. That was heaps good!

Another little note: We usually say “heaps” instead of “very”!

27. Prezzie 

The short version of the noun “present.” When you’re invited to a birthday party or any other celebration, make sure that you bring a prezzie.

Typical prezzies (plural) include wine, beer or gift vouchers.

28. Chrissie

You may be thinking that this is a woman’s name. You’re wrong. This is our word for Christmas! Start buying your Chrissie prezzies before the stores are empty!

29. Avo

The greatest fruit in the world. The humble avocado (avo) can be eaten in many ways. I recommend it on toast.

Before adding avocado…spread some Vegemite on the toast, add the avo and top it off with some thinly sliced cheese!

Once you’ve mastered that snack, you’ll be even more of a true blue Aussie!

Using Australian Slang

Why so many abbreviations?

We Australians—I mean, Aussies—love to shorten our words.

Aussies love to have a good yarn (chat). But, we want to make it quick…or maybe we are just lazy. Whatever the reason, abbreviations are an essential part of being a “True Blue” Aussie.

Australians use abbreviations because they want to be more friendly. They do not want people to think that they are a snob (too good to talk to them). We sound more casual and friendlier when we use short words.

A short story using Australian slang

All right, now that we’ve learned a lot of new Aussie slang, here are most of the new words in a short story. This will help you learn the words in context:

My mate Paolo invited me around to his house yesterday arvo for a quick cuppa. Paolo isn’t from Straya, but he loves a good cuppa. 

I said to him, “mate, can we just go to Macca’s? I really feel like a burger.” On the way to Macca’s, we had to stop at the servo for some petty. After filling up at the servo, I put on the radio. Accadacca was playing.

I was really excited about the song and started driving too fast. I must have been speeding because a coppa pulled me over.

The coppa asked, “Have you been drinking?”

I replied, “nah, mate, I’m a tradie. I just finished work.”

“Are you sure you haven’t had a tinny?” he replied.

I shook my head, “I might have one later when I watch the footy game.

On the way to Macca’s we invited some more friends. One was a cabbie, another was a postie and the other two worked as a brickie and a firey.

Paolo sometimes works as a muso down at the local pub. He’s also a part-time garbo.

We finally arrived at Macca’s. I ordered a burger and fries, and Paolo ordered chicken nuggets and a choccy biccy.

They had free Wi-Fi there, so we used our lappys and went onto Facey. It turns out that our mate got a new job as an ambo driver! We were defo excited about that!

After that, we started looking online for some good Chrissy prezzies for our friends. We found the perfect prezzie, but when we tried to order it we found out that there weren’t any left. Devo!

And that’s it! If you need some more practice, here’s a fantastic clip to help you with context—when and how to use the words—as well as pronunciation.

We’ve covered a lot of slang but there’s always more to learn out there.

Hopefully this new lingo will help you on your study or travel adventure!

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