CISABROAD BLOG · November 16, 2019 · 3 Min Read
A Lesson in Australian English | Student Blog from Gold Coast

I went on CIS Abroad’s Semester on the Gold Coast program in Spring 2019. I assumed that since Australians spoke English (the only language I  speak), the Australian culture would be pretty similar to American culture. Therefore, it would be easy for me to assimilate into their culture. Boy was I wrong! Australia has its own unique culture and traditions like every other country.

A Lesson in Australian English

One of the fantastic things about Australians is the way they speak English. They have an entire sublanguage of slang that could confuse any American in a heartbeat. Seriously, I always had to use a dictionary to understand what they were saying. The most basic rule of Australian slang is that everything is shortened, meaning they (usually) cut off the last half of the word.

A Lesson in Australian English

Here is a quick lesson in Australian English:

Ambo: ambulance

Avo: avocado

Arvo: afternoon

Barbie: barbeque (note: “shrimp on the barbie” is NOT a thing)

Bathers: swimsuit

Bikey: motorcyclist

Bikkie: biscuit

Bottle-o: liquor store

Brekkie: breakfast

Brizzy: Brisbane

Chewy: chewing gum

Chips: fries or actual chips

Chokkie: chocolate

Chrissie: Christmas

Cockie: cockroach

Coldie: a beer

Cozzie: swimsuit

Docket: bill, receipt

Doco: documentary

Down Under: Australia, New Zealand

Dunny: outside bathroom

Durry: cigarette (tobacco)

Exy: expensive

Off one’s Face: drunk

Fair go: a chance

Fairy Floss: cotton candy

Fish and Chips: a classic Australian meal of fish and fries

Footy: Australian rules football

Garbo: garbage

A Lesson in Australian English

Grog: alcohol

Greenie: environmentalist

Hoon: hooligan

Hooroo: goodbye

Hostel: a cheap place to stay the night in a room shared (often) with strangers

Hotel: often just a pub

Joey: baby kangaroo

Journo: journalist

Kero: kerosene

Kindie: kindergarten

Knock: to criticize

Lippy: lipstick

Lollies: sweets, candies

Macca’s: McDonald’s

Mate: buddy, friend

Milko: milkman

Mob: herd of kangaroos

Mozzie: mosquito

Muddy: mud crab

A Lesson in Australian English

No worries: expression of forgiveness or reassurance

Outback: interior of Australia

Oz: Australia

Pash: a long, passionate kiss

Petrol: gas

Pissed: drunk

Pokies: poker machines, gambling machines

Postie: postman

Prezzy: present, gift

Reffo: refugee

Rego: vehicle registration

Rellie or relo: relatives

Rollie: self-rolled cigarette

Roo: kangaroo

Root: to have intercourse

Rubbish: commonly used word for trash

Sanger: sandwich

Sausage Sanga: basically a hot dog with a folded piece of bread in place of a hot dog bun

Seppo: an American

Servo: service (gas) station

Sheila: woman

Shout: turn to buy a round of drinks

Sickie: day off sick from work

Smoko: smoke or coffee break

Snag: sausage

Spag bol: spaghetti Bolognese

Strides: trousers

Stubby: bottle of beer

Sunnies: sunglasses

Tassie: Tasmania

Telly: television

Thongs: flip-flops

Tim-Tams: the absolute best store-bought cookies to exist

Trakie daks: tracksuit pants

Truckie: truck driver

Uni: university

Unit: flat, apartment

Ute: utility vehicle, pickup truck

Vegemite: a uniquely Australian vegetable spread

Veggies: vegetables

A Lesson in Australian English

I have heard most of those words used on multiple occasions during my time in Australia. Understanding the slang was challenging at first, but by the end, I got more comfortable with it and even started using some phrases (“Macca’s” will stay in my vocabulary forever). I did not even realize some of the terms entered my vocabulary until my American friends pointed it out in a video call.

Every language is beautiful in its own way. Different words, sounds, grammar rules, and other characteristics make each language unique. Even though some countries share similar languages, their local dialects and slang set each culture apart. 

I find Australia’s use of English incredible and convenient, and learning to speak it gave me lots of opportunities to laugh. (mostly because its newness could sometimes surprise me).

I hope that everyone enjoys the Australian language as much as I do!


Read other blog posts about Language!

Interested in learning more about Australian English? Watch the video about Australian slang words!
Read more about Evelyn’s program in Gold Coast!

The CIS Abroad blog is run by Zoë Crabtree, Jenn Weisgerber, Siobhan Tripp, Emily Negard, and more folks on our marketing team. Head over to the “Meet the Team” page to learn more about us as individuals. On the blog, we share student-written content and information for students, advisors, other study abroad professionals, and families of students studying abroad. Check out our Facebook and Instagram for more from us and our students!