Australian Slang: 101 Words and Phrases to Help You Sound More Local Down Under
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 reasons 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. Keep in mind that we don’t actually write things this way.
Let’s have a look at some awesomely abbreviated Australian slang words and how they’re used in the land down under.
- 1. Cuppa — a cup of tea
- 2. Macca’s — McDonald’s
- 3. Arvo — afternoon
- 4. Straya — Australia
- 5. Footy — rugby
- 6. Biccy — biscuit
- 7. Choccy — chocolate
- 8. Lappy — laptop
- 9. Accadacca — AC/DC
- 10. Devo — devastated
- 11. Defo — definitely
- 12. S’arvo — this afternoon
- 13. Servo — gas station
- 14. Petty — gasoline
- 15. Bottle-o — liquor store
- 16. Tinny — can of beer
- 17. Coppa — police officer
- 18. Tradie — tradesman
- 19. Postie — postal worker
- 20. Garbo — garbage collector
- 21. Muso — musician
- 22. Cabbie — taxi driver
- 23. Brickie — bricklayer
- 24. Firey — firefighter
- 25. Ambo — ambulance
- 26. Facey — Facebook
- 27. Prezzie — present
- 28. Chrissie — Christmas
- 29. Avo — avocado
- 30. Barbie — barbecue
- 31. Bloke — man
- 32. Bludger — lazy person
- 33. Chook — chicken
- 34. Chuck a sickie — take a sick day
- 35. Dunny — toilet
- 36. Esky — cooler
- 37. Fair dinkum — true
- 39. Good on ya — well done
- 40. Heaps — a lot
- 41. Knackered — tired
- 42. Larrikin — mischievous person
- 43. Lollies — candy
- 44. Mate — friend
- 45. No worries — no problem
- 46. Ocker — uncultured Australian person
- 47. Outback — rural areas of Australia
- 48. Pom — English person
- 49. Ripper — excellent
- 50. Roo — kangaroo
- 51. Sheila — woman
- 52. Snag — sausage
- 53. Strewth! — exclamation of surprise
- 54. Sunnies — sunglasses
- 55. Surfies — surfers
- 56. Tassie —Tasmania
- 57. Thongs — flip-flops
- 58. True blue — genuine, patriotic
- 59. Ute — pickup truck
- 60. Ankle biter — young child
- 61. Bathers — swimsuit
- 62. Billabong — stagnant waterhole
- 63. Bogan — unsophisticated person
- 64. Chewie — chewing gum
- 65. Chockers — crowded
- 66. Cozzie — swimsuit
- 67. Crikey — exclamation of surprise
- 68. Daggy — unfashionable
- 69. Deadset — absolutely
- 70. Drongo — fool
- 71. Fair go — give someone a fair chance
- 72. Flat chat — very fast
- 73. Fossick — search for valuable items
- 74. Grommet — young surfer
- 75. Hard yakka — hard work
- 76. Jumper — sweater
- 77. Op shop — thrift store
- 78. Pash — passionate kiss
- 79. Polly — politician
- 80. Pommy shower — using deodorant instead of taking a shower
- 81. Ratbag — mischievous person
- 82. Reckon — think or believe
- 83. Rellie — relative
- 84. Ridgy-didge — genuine, real
- 85. Rock up — arrive
- 86. Rort — scam, fraud
- 87. Sanger — sandwich
- 88. She’ll be right — everything will be fine
- 89. Sook — whiny person
- 90. Spit the dummy — throw a tantrum
- 91. Stoked — excited
- 92. Telly — television
- 93. Togs — swimsuit
- 94. Trackie dacks — tracksuit pants, sweat pants
- 95. Billy — teapot
- 96. Cobber — very good friend
- 97. Gnarly — awesome
- 98. Rapt — very happy
- 99. Budgie smugglers – Speedos
- 100. Brolly — umbrella
- 101. Hoon — hooligan
- Using Australian Slang
- And One More Thing...
1. Cuppa — a cup of tea
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.
“Would ya like to pop around for a cuppa?”
2. Macca’s — McDonald’s
This is the abbreviated version of McDonald’s. To an Australian, pronouncing three syllables is too much effort. Two syllables is much easier.
Let’s go down to Macca’s for some burgers.
3. Arvo — afternoon
This comes from the word “afternoon.” If you say the word afternoon in your head, you will find that it also has three syllables! Well that’s too many!
Two syllables is quicker. That means we can go for a surf sooner.
“Wanna come over this arvo?”
4. Straya — Australia
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 just say the last two syllables instead.
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).
“Isn’t Straya great?”
5. Footy — rugby
Aussies love their footy! But for us, footy is rugby.
We love rugby so much that there are four major types: Rugby Union, Rugby League, AFL and Touch football.
Don’t get confused with the other football. We call this soccer (like the Americans do).
“You wanna watch footie round mine this arvo?”
6. Biccy — biscuit
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.
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).
“Give us a biccy with our tea.”
7. Choccy — chocolate
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!
“Choccy is better than footie.”
8. Lappy — laptop
This abbreviation is more of a nickname. The word doesn’t get much shorter, even though this is technically an abbreviation. Think of it as a cute name for your laptop!“I need to get a new lappy. I spilled a cuppa on mine.”
9. Accadacca — AC/DC
AC/DC 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.“No band rocks like Accadacca.”
10. Devo — devastated
Devastated is often shortened to “devo,” but you don’t really have to be devastated to use this one. It’s usually used as an exaggeration for mildly disappointed.
“The surf was bad this weekend. I was devo!”
11. Defo — definitely
This word isn’t related to “devo” at all even though it looks very similar. This is the shortened version of “definitely” and it’s mainly used to say “yes.”
“Do you want to go to the pub tonight? Defo! Let’s do it.”
12. S’arvo — this afternoon
This word is an extension of “arvo.” It literally means “this afternoon” as opposed to any afternoon in general.
“What are you up to s’arvo?”
13. Servo — gas station
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 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.
Of course, four syllables is too much effort for us, so we have abbreviated it to servo.
“I gotta swing by the servo to pick up some pies and petrol.”
14. Petty — gasoline
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.
“Scrounge up some cash for petty.”
15. Bottle-o — liquor store
This is the abbreviation for a bottle shop, usually called a liquor store in American English.“Swing by the bottle-o and pick up a sixer of tinnies.”
16. Tinny — can of beer
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.“If you cover the tinnys, I’ll buy the meat pies.”
17. Coppa — police officer
This means 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, the term copper probably came over from England.
“Slow down! There’s a coppa!”
18. Tradie — tradesman
The word tradie derives from the full word “tradesman,” which is a term 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.
“I’m thinking of becoming a tradie after school.”
19. Postie — postal worker
This is simple: A postie is a postman/postwoman, or someone who delivers our letters and parcels each day.
“Did the postie come round yet? I’m waiting for a check.”
20. Garbo — garbage collector
This is short for garbage collector or garbage truck driver, which is considered a good job in Straya.
“There’s the garbo! Quick get the rubbish out!”
21. Muso — musician
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 or pub.
“The musos are starting up around nine.”
22. Cabbie — taxi driver
As you may have guessed, this means 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.
“Hail that cabbie!”
23. Brickie — bricklayer
A brickie is a tradie who works as a bricklayer. This type of skilled work involves laying bricks in floors, sidewalks and building walls of new buildings and houses.
“That brickie must be knackered. This wall is crooked.”
24. Firey — firefighter
This is a word for a firefighter. It was four syllables so we made it two.
“I imagine it’d be pretty scary to be a firey.”
25. Ambo — ambulance
This abbreviation 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.
“Call an ambo! I broke my arm.”
26. Facey — Facebook
The shortened version of Facebook. You’ll probably hear teenagers refer to it as Facey. It’s true: even brand names aren’t immune from Aussie shortening and slang.
“Did ya see that new photo on Facey?
27. Prezzie — present
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 include wine, beer or gift vouchers.
“Thanks for the prezzie, mate!”
28. Chrissie — Christmas
You may be thinking that this is a woman’s name, but you’d be wrong. This is our word for Christmas! Start buying your Chrissie prezzies before the stores are empty!
“Chrissy is my favorite holiday of the year!”
29. Avo — avocado
The greatest fruit in the world. The humble avocado 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!
“We need some more avos. Go round the market.”
30. Barbie — barbecue
Everyone seems to know the phrase “Throw some shrimp on the barbie,” but in reality, we say “prawns” here. This word simply means barbecue. We Aussies tend to grill up fish, prawns, chicken and steak.
“Let’s go a barbie on the beach this arvo.”
31. Bloke — man
This one comes from British English and it simply means “man,” or “dude” if you’re American.
“That bloke just stole my car!”
32. Bludger — lazy person
This is a funny slang term for someone no one wants to know: a sloth, otherwise known as a lazy bloke (or woman) who doesn’t want to do much of anything.
“Don’t be a bludger, Tommy. Get up and look for a job!”
33. Chook — chicken
“Chicken” was too long for Aussies, so we shortened it to to “chook.” This is a popular barbie food.
“Pick up some chook for the barbie.”
34. Chuck a sickie — take a sick day
When you need a day off work, but you’re not really sick, this is the term for you.
“The waves are too good… I’m chucking a sickie today!”
35. Dunny — toilet
This is our cute version of “toilet,” don’t ask me why. It’s actually the original term for an outside toilet, often known as an outhouse in America.
“I gotta use the dunny!”
36. Esky — cooler
This is one of those situations where the most popular brand name becomes a term for the whole category, sort of like Kleenex in the United States. Any cooler can now be called an “Esky.”
“Fill up the Esky. We’re headed to the beach.”
37. Fair dinkum — true
This is Aussie gold standard slang. It means true or genuine. The real thing is another way of putting it. The phrase was brought to Straya from Britain, where it originated in the dialects of Derbyshire and Lincolnshire, where it meant “work,” or “a due share of work.”
“Fair dinkum for a fair day’s pay.”
39. Good on ya — well done
“Good on ya” is a way to recognize that someone’s done something well. You may say this after someone graduates from university or gets a new job.
“Good on ya, Tina. You’re going to make a great doctor.”
40. Heaps — a lot
Instead of saying “a lot” or “many,” most Aussies will say this. It can be used to describe a crowd or a tinny-filled Esky.
“The market has heaps of bananas on sale right now!”
41. Knackered — tired
When you’re tired, or even exhausted from a long day’s work, a day of surfing or even from doing nothing, you’re “knackered” and you may want to take a nap.
“Dude, I’m knackered from surfing.”
42. Larrikin — mischievous person
This is usually used to describe a boisterous and badly behaved young man. It can also mean a maverick, perhaps to describe a trailblazer of some industry—someone like Elon Musk.
“Tommy’s a bit of a larrikin. He needs to get it together.”
43. Lollies — candy
Through “lollies” is short for “lollipops,” in Straya, it can be used to describe any sweet candy treat.
“I’ve got a craving for lollies.”
44. Mate — friend
This comes from British English and simply means “friend.”
“Come here, mate. Give us a hug.”
45. No worries — no problem
This slang phrase has been exported to almost every English speaking country on earth. It means “no problem” or “don’t worry about it” and it perfectly encapsulates the Aussie mindset.
“No worries, mate. It’s all good.”
46. Ocker — uncultured Australian person
This word usually describes an Australian male who’s uncouth, unrefined or even boorish. It can also be used affectionately though to describe a stereotypical Aussie bloke, love him or hate him.
“He’s an ocker, but I love him!”
47. Outback — rural areas of Australia
The remote, sparsely populated areas of Australia are known collectively as “the outback,” meaning out back behind the cities on the coasts.
“I just got back from two weeks camping in the outback.”
48. Pom — English person
The origin is unclear, but we call Brits “poms” in the land down under. One theory of the word’s origins is that it comes from the letters “POME,” which was stamped on the clothing of British prisoners in the late 1800s, as an acronym of “Prisoner of Mother England.”
“Typical pom. He likes tea and has bad teeth.”
49. Ripper — excellent
This term means great or excellent. A wave can be a ripper and so can a party.
“That race was a real ripper!”
50. Roo — kangaroo
Since we Aussies like to shorten everything, why not the name of one of our most famous animals?
“Watch out for roos on the road!”
51. Sheila — woman
This one is used less than it used to be because it can be considered sexist, but you still hear it in the outback. It’s used to describe a woman. Apparently, the name used to be more common for women in Straya.
“That Sheila is a real catch!”
52. Snag — sausage
Another shortened slang word, a “snag” can be any kind of sausage, and it often found at barbies.
“Pick up some snags for the barbie!”
53. Strewth! — exclamation of surprise
When an Aussie is surprised or shocked, they may exclaim “strewth!”
“Strewth! That spider came out of nowhere.”
54. Sunnies — sunglasses
This is simply the abbreviated word for “sunglasses,” which are a necessity down under because it’s so sunny much of the year.
“I’m blinded! I forgot my sunnies!”
55. Surfies — surfers
In a country with as many beaches and with a rich and dynamic beach culture, it’s no wonder there are going to be plenty of surfers.
“The break is chocked with surfies today.”
56. Tassie —Tasmania
That island state off the southeast coast of Australia that’s famous for its little devils? Aussies don’t bother with the full “Tasmania,” with its cumbersome four syllables. They simply call it “Tassie.”
“You want to do a weekend in Tassie?
57. Thongs — flip-flops
In North America, “thongs” may be a type of racy underwear, but in Straya, they’re those cheap rubber beach slippers known as “flip-flops.”
“I stubbed by toe because I was wearing thongs.”
58. True blue — genuine, patriotic
If you’re “true blue,” you’re the real thing. It can mean genuine, patriotic or just that you’re a stand up person.
“Tommy’s a true blue Aussie.”
59. Ute — pickup truck
This is the abbreviation for pickup truck or utility truck, or even an SUV.
“Can I borrow your ute? I have to move this weekend.”
60. Ankle biter — young child
Aussies use this cute slang to describe young children, who are short enough to bite your ankles (but hopefully won’t!)
“Now that I’ve got an ankle biter of my own, I’m knackered!”
61. Bathers — swimsuit
Australia has a lot of slang for swimsuits and this is one of them.
“Have you got your bathers in the car? I’d love to take a dip.”
62. Billabong — stagnant waterhole
This isn’t actually slang because the word is from the Wiradjuri Indigenous word bilabang, which translates to “lake.” Today, most people associate the word with the popular surf company and it’s also used to describe stagnant lakes in the outback.
“Don’t swim in that billabong.”
63. Bogan — unsophisticated person
This word isn’t a compliment. It usually refers to an uncouth person from somewhere in the outback.
“This town is full of bogans.”
64. Chewie — chewing gum
This abbreviation simply means “chewing gum.” Why say three syllables when you can use two?
“My mouth is dry. I need some chewie.”
65. Chockers — crowded
When the beach is packed or the pub is full, they’re “chockers” or packed.
“Man the beach is chockers today.”
66. Cozzie — swimsuit
Here’s yet another slang word for swimsuit. This one derives from the British “swimming or bathing costume.”
“Bring your cozzie! It’s going to be a hot one.”
67. Crikey — exclamation of surprise
This is another way to express surprise.
“Crikey it’s hot today!”
68. Daggy — unfashionable
“Daggy” can be used in quite a number of ways, from describing a scruffy or unfashionable outfit to an affectionate insult to your best mate, who may not have the best social skills or fashion sense.
“What a daggy track! We need to get a new DJ.”
69. Deadset — absolutely
This word means “without a doubt.” If someone is deadset on something, they’re going to do it.
“Tommy is deadset on getting that job.”
70. Drongo — fool
This fun slang word means “fool,” “simpleton” or “idiot,” but it can also be used affectionately.
“He’s such a drongo.”
71. Fair go — give someone a fair chance
If you give someone a fair go, you give them a chance. For example, you may not be qualified to be a cabbie, but if the taxi company gives you a fair go and you do well, you may get the job anyway.
“We’re giving her a fair go even though she flubbed the interview.”
72. Flat chat — very fast
If you drive full speed or “flat chat” to Melbourne, you can make it in five hours. This word means to do something at maximum speed or effort.
“I’m working flat chat, mate. No time for anything else.”
73. Fossick — search for valuable items
If you’re broke, you may need to “fossick.” This means to search for gold originally, although now it could mean searching for spare change or even spare clothes to sell for extra money.
“I’m fossicking through my garage for old bits of copper pipe I can sell.”
74. Grommet — young surfer
When you’re just a kid and you’re learning to surf, the other surfers will refer to you as a “grommet.”
“The break is packed with grommets today.”
75. Hard yakka — hard work
“Hard yakka” is Aussie slang for hard work. The word “yakka” isn’t actually slang. It derives from the word for work (yaga), which comes from Yagara, one of the Indigenous languages in Australia.
“Cleaning out the yard is hard yakka.”
76. Jumper — sweater
When it’s cold outside, grab a “jumper,” Aussie for the American term “sweater.”
“I need a jumper. It’s chilly out.”
77. Op shop — thrift store
A charity shop or a thrift shop where you can buy used clothes and housewares is known as an “op shop” in Australia, because you never know what opportunity awaits there.
“I picked up a new designer suit at the op shop.”
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’re 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 snobs (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 some 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.
And you can look for more Australian slang—as well as many other types of real-world English—in the videos featured on FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
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 down under!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.