Australian Words and Phrases

This list is slowly expanding, but is not intended as a definitive list. Enjoy.

Aussie words and phrases in common use

tele and video
Let's go to the pictures
see you later

Words meant to be typical Australian but rarely used

g'day mate
don't come the raw prawn with me, mate.

Slang, invented by Barry Humphries and others, but in regular use

point Percy at the porcelain
technicolour yawn

Invented Aussie slang but not actually used

pavement pizza
curbside quiche
shake hands with the wife's best friend
siphon the python
don't come the raw prawn with me, mate

Words known in Australia but not actually used by Australians

trunk of car
fender of car
hood of car
cell phone
write a person (instead of saying write to a person)
we are going to the markets Saturday (without an 'on' before markets)
gas, gas station, gasoline etc: sorry, it's called petrol here
jumbo shrimps
shopping cart
carousel - Australians usually say merry-go-round
I'm going to the mall
the interstate
home boy
transit system
tubes - American word for radio valves, as used in guitar amplifiers
ground beef - Australians say mince

Old fashioned words gradually going out of use

transistor radio
radiogram (up to 1958)
stereogram (1958-1975)
trannie - it used to mean transistor radio
gay (it used to mean happy, light-hearted and cheerful 50 years ago)
theatre, flicks or pictures meaning cinema
mantel radio
record player
cassette tape
reel-to-reel tape recorder
brown bombers
silent cops
soap saver
egg slice
one armed bandits
radio dial
petrol bowser
chip heater
clothes props
running board
milk bar, sandwich shop
coffee lounge
soda fountain
pineapple crush
lime spider
six o'clock swill
sissy blouse
laundromat and laundrette
front stalls and back stalls at the pictures
your shout - to buy a round of drinks
Happy and gay, the Laxette way - old slogan for laxatives
reporter - what a journalist used to be called before they wrote opinions instead of facts.

New Words and Wacky Acronyms

CBD - this shocker has replaced "the shops" or "down town" or "up town"
Centrelink - a euphemism used to disguise the dole office
metro - a modern-sounding but bogus word for a smaller than average train
transit lane - a place where cars move slowly during the peak hour
24/7 - we never close, except when we are not open
365 - we are open every day except when we are closed
convenience store - corner store, corner shop, general store
anorexia nervosa - unheard of 50 years ago
heritage - unheard of 50 years ago
convict ancestors - utterly taboo until 1988
WAGs - Wives and Girlfriends
wi-fi hotspot
BYO - Bring your own wine to a restaurant
shock-jock - the smear word for a radio announcer when you don't agree with them.
gutter press or Murdock press - word for a newspaper when you don't agree with them.
having a dining experience - eating out.
living your chosen lifestyle - what more can I say?

Words not generally known in Australia

the tube
tube station
underground (railway station)
off licence
zimmer frame
electric fire - wonderful British word for radiator
scarf and barf replacing chew and spew
the tri-state area
metro (although the NSW government is desperate to have one)
jelly (meaning jam)
tractor-trailer - horrible American word for semi-trailer

Slang words and phrases in fairly common use

see you later
there you go
stone the crows
flat out like a lizard drinking
even Blind Freddie could see that
you've got Buckley's chance
thongs - footwear not undies
dead ringer
skinny dipping
hoons, hooning around
she'll be right
youse (the plural of you)
middle of nowhere
fair dinkum

Furphy Water Cart Australian Aussie Slang
The Furphy was a mobile water tank used on farms and during the 1914-1918 World War.
Nowadays a furphy is a rumour, a piece of misinformation, or story that is unlikely to be true.

Old fashioned slang rarely used

bodgies and widgies (also mods and rockers)
dilly bag
up the duff
never never
Woop Woop
back of beyond
a bun in the oven
French letter
mad as a two bob watch
it's had the pork sword
Mrs Kafoops
housie or housie-housie - alternative Australian word for bingo
drive-in pictures
getting off at Redfern.

Overseas words best not said in Australia

fanny pack
cheerleaders rooting for their home team
it's better to say draughts instead of checkers
making jokes about everything being upside down in Australia
down under - nobody actually says this in Australia

New Zealand slang and especially the accent

New Zealand pronounced New Zillund
his pronounced hez
guest pronounced gust
fish and chips pronounced fesh and cheps
jandals - called thongs in Australia
six, as in this story....
   Aussie boy on first date: What time shall we go out to eat?
   Homely NZ girl: After six.
chilly bin - an Esky in Australia
tramping - known as bushwalking in Australia
kiwi - word used by Australians to describe everything from New Zealand

Note: There are lots of shortened words in New Zealand like in Australia.

Creeping Americanisms

Train station instead of railway station
Saying zee instead of zed for the last letter of the alphabet
Thinking the emergency number is 911 not 000
Licence plate instead of rego number
Railroad or railroad track instead of train track or railway track
Convenience store instead of corner shop (what's convenient about being overcharged)
Numbering the floors in buildings where Level 1 is the ground floor.
restrooms or bathroom instead of toilet (this one has to be the worst, especially at Westfield)
Confusion between alligators and crocodiles
Saying vacation instead of holiday.
The word restroom is a creeping Americanism never spoken in Australia
bathroom tissue instead of toilet paper
diaper instead of nappy
crib instead of cot
training bras for little girls
shopping mall instead of shopping centre
Anything off TV, for example words like mall-rat
saying Emergency Room instead or Emergency or Outpatients or Casualty
American trends reaching Australia for example saying 24/7 and 9/11 which is actually 11/9
Saying write someone instead of write to someone
fire truck instead of fire engine
saying checkers instead of draughts for the board game
saying college when you mean University or TAFE
calling a railway carriage a car
saying streetcar or tramcar or light rail instead of tram
calling a flat or a home unit an apartment or a condo
rush hour instead of peak hour
thinking that thongs are a type of underwear instead of footwear
cookies instead of biscuits (they don't have Tim Tams, so there)
jelly instead of jam
trash can instead of garbage bin
spelling the word centre as center
saying stocks when you mean shares
saying wildfire when the Australian word is bushfire
liquor store instead of bottle shop
mom instead of mum
hurricane instead of cyclone
thinking that school buses should be painted yellow and have flashing lights
talking about cattle ranches after watching a western movie
saying happy holidays instead of merry christmas.
Saying holiday instead of Christmas is sickening political corectness

American spellings unacceptable in Australia

fiber, center, specter
color, favor
dialed should be dialled, and many more that are similar eg travelled
realized instead of realised and many, many more of these z words

Note: This spelling fiasco was created by just one American who thought he knew what was best for everybody.

British words and slang not often used in Australia

articulated lorry
rubber johnnie
chav - the new peasant urban underclass
betting shop
council house
electric fire
ASBO - Anti Social Behaviour Order
DOGBO - Same, but for your pit-bull

Regional Words in Australia (these are surprisingly few)

poloni, devon, salami, windsor sausage, german sausage
pie floater
port, suitcase
peanut butter or peanut paste
bogan, westie, yobbo - it's usually westie in Sydney and bogan in Melbourne, but the Sydney Morning Herald used the word 'boganism' in March 2010.
cossies, togs, bathers, swimmers - slight regional variations.

Shortening of Words and Terms of Affection

It seems appropriate that the leader of the opposition is Bill Shorten.

ambos - a baby-talk word promoted by trade unions to portray militant unionists as kindly community workers.
tele and video - as in 'I videoed the tele last night'
he drives a semi
I live in a semi
Tassie - short for Tasmania
Sydney suburbs: The Cross, The Spot, Paddo and Darlo.
Hotels: The Sando, the Erko Bowlo, the Impy. brekkie
wheelie bin
firies - a foolish word for firemen used on TV chat shows and by Union members
tradies - the big new word for skilled workers
he was doing 100 k's
Acca Dacca
Barnsie, Thorpie and Angry
Mal and Sterlo
Singo, dingo, bingo, learn journo lingo
Gra Gra
Our Kylie, Kyles, Jason
Our Nicole
Dame Nellie, Dame Edna
Little Pattie, Little Nicky Webster
Shazza, Dazza, Bazza and Gazza

Mysterious Sightings

tee nanegels
the woo worse foo fairies at Miranda
I'm going to the Erko Bowlo this arvo.
I'm off to the Sando to see Chris and Lucy do their stuff.
the Meccano Set at Lansvale
the blinking light at Frenchs Forest
the 'Number 96' block of flats in Woollahra
the Map of Tasmania
Shoot through like a Bondi tram.

Political Correctness, especially from Government Departments

The Spot - All locals know where this is, basically it's South Randwick. And all the buses used to say "Via The Spot" on the front, but now they say "Via Carr Street". Worse still, Australia Post says the post office at The Spot is called "St Pauls".
Beach Inspectors renamed to Lifeguards.
Holiday - this frightful new word for Christmas is a worst possible case of political correctness and is occasionally seen in Australia.
Indigenous Australia - all derogatory words have been banished.
Team Leader - the original word was ganger
Bus Operator - whatever happened to bus driver
Construction Workers - a more up-market term than Builder's Labourers
Administrative Assistant - junior clerk
Circular Quay - Sydney buses used to go to Circular Quay, but now they go to City.
Ambulatory toilet - I haven't figured this one out yet.
Customers instead of Passengers - a special prize to Cityrail, whose new name 'Sydney Trains' is deservedly detested.
The 'Spastic Centre of NSW' has been renamed.
Restooms - A special prize to Westfield Shopping Centres for renaming the toilets but not providing any beds.
Chair person instead of chairman - complete tosh because the 'man' refers to the Latin word for hand
Wait person - the gender-neutralists keep trying, don't they.
Person hole cover instead of manhole cover - only joking, the feminists have not achieved this one yet.
Huntsperson Spiders - An example from Macquarie Uni, coming soon to your back verandah.

Basic references

Let Stalk Strine and Nose Tone Unturned, two books by Professor Afferbeck Lauder
Wikipedia Article on Australian English - anomyous experts know the topic well
Paul Hogan and the Crocodile Dundee movies
Barry Humphries and the film character Bazza McKenzie
Macquarie Dictionary - Book of Slang (1996, revised in 2000)
The Penguin Book of Australian Slang by Lennie Johansen (1988, 1996)


Prize: A special tribute to the compilers of the Australian English word list, as used in the Firefox and Chrome browsers, a massive effort completed without thanks or credit.
Booby Prize: The collaboration between Microsoft, News Corporation and Macquarie Dictionary to produce a list of Australian words that tolerated American spellings such as color, fiber and organization and which introduced pretentious French accents on words such as cafe, facade and deja vu.
Special Booby Prize: All the shopping centres, especially Westfield-owned, where the signs say restrooms instead of toilets.

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