Aussie Slang Words

A history and dictionary of many Aussie slang words.

MANY OF THE COLLOQUIALISMS used by Australians stem from the days when the Australian island was colonised in 1788 by the English to establish a convict settlement at Botany Bay in what is now Sydney, New South Wales. Most of the convicts came from the inner city of London - the Cockneys - and from their distinctive rhyming slang the Australian Language was born. Irish prisoners, many convicted because of their political views as much as their petty crimes, also contributed to the spoken word with their unique humour and pronunciation.

Many Australians living today are direct descendants of the convicts who arrived on the first fleets. The idioms introduced by the convicts still linger in the Australian use of the English language. It is now a badge of honour to be recognised as a descendant of a convict, many of whom were sentenced to penal servitude for life for nothing less than stealing a loaf of bread.

Early settlers after the First World War came from many of the Europeans countries and introduced new words and accents to the language. Because of Australia's isolation from the rest of the world before World War Two there was very little to influence any change in the way Australians spoke from those early colonial days.

Following the Second World War, and with the increase in immigration from Europe, many of the expressions are, sadly, becoming extinct. In addition, Australian English of today is largely influenced by the American form of English through the success of television and "˜movies' (previously known as the "˜pictures' or "˜ the flicks').

Immigrants from Asia have more recently introduced more cultures into the Australian way of life bringing with them new expressions and forms of English formerly foreign to the Australian ear.

Expression/Word Meaning

Ack-emma Morning (from a. m. - a military term adopted during WWII)

Adam's ale Water

Afghan's flytrap Reference to an old bush saying which implies a remedy to keep the flies from your face is to cut a flap in the back of your trousers thus giving the flies somewhere else to flock. - not used in polite society.

Al Capone Telephone

Amber fluid Beer

Back hander A bribe

Backblocks Remote, sparsely inhabited inland country. Australia is a very dry country with lots of desert and so living in the "˜bush' is a very hard life.

Bacon and eggs Legs

Bag of fruit A suit

Banana bender A Queenslander

Bar lizard A drunk who spends most of his time at a bar. A bar-fly.

Bickie. Money as in "˜He's in the big bickies now." = rich. Or it can refer to a biscuit (cookie). We never used to call biscuits "˜cookies' but it is slowly taking over from bickies and biscuits.

Billy can A tin, usually a jam tin, with a wire handle, used for boiling water for "˜billy' tea.

Billy-can-lid or billylid. A kid - a child. A billy can is the tin (jam tin) used by the swaggies in the depression days to boil water on an open fire for tea. A lid was often fashioned to keep the water in the billy while walking.

Bin or kick Pocket: He must have heaps in his bin (kick). = lots of money in his pocket.

Bingy Stomach. "A pain in the bingy."

Blind as a wombat Hard at seeing. The wombat is a nocturnal animal and cannot see very well in daylight.

Blind drunk Very drunk.

Bloke A man

Blow a fuse Lose one's temper.

Bludger A loafer - one who won't work.

Bobby dazzler Very good. "˜That's a bobby dazzler of a bike you have."

Bonzer Great, wonderful e.g. "That bloke has a bonzer sheila."Translation: "That guy has a great gal"

Brickie. A bricklayer.

Bunch of fives A fist. "How would you like a bunch of fives on your chops?" = "How would you like me to punch you in the mouth?"

Bushie Somebody from the bush (outback).

Cheese and kisses The missus (wife)

China plate Mate

Chippie. A carpenter

Clackers False teeth

Clink Prison - presumably from the clink of chains used by the chain gangs

Clueless Stupid - "That bloke's clueless"

Cobber A mate, pal friend, a buddy - usually a close friend

Cockatoo In Australia there is a gambling game called "˜Two-up". Two coins are thrown in the air and players bet on whether the coins will land "˜Evens or odds'. Two heads or tails or one head and one tail. All our coins have the Queen's head on one side. The game is illegal except on Anzac Day - a national holiday (similar to the American Veterans Day?) to commemorate the landing at Gallopoli in WW1 when soldiers played the simple game on the beaches. Because the game is illegal a "˜cockatoo' is posted to keep an eye out for the police. He warns the players when he sees police and the coins and money are hidden. Two-up is now played legally in our registered casinos and the game is recognised as one of our national sport even though it is still illegal to play it outside the casinos.

Cocky Usually refers to a small time grazier (rancher). From a "˜cocky farmer'.

Come in spinner. "˜You fell for that one" comes from the traditional game of Two-Up where coins are tossed in the air and bets are made on the fall of the coins. The spinner is the man who tosses the coins. This expression relates to the mugs (fools) who gamble and if you fall for a "˜con' trick and are duped then you are accused of being a fool hence: "Come in spinner".

Come the raw prawn To come the raw prawn means to do a nasty trick on a friend or to tell lies to a friend. "Aw. Don't come the raw prawn with me." I.e. "You don't expect me to believe that do you?"

Crack a mental Go into a violent rage.

Damper A form of bread from flour and water used in the early pioneering days. Usually "Bush damper"

Dead marine An empty beer bottle.

Dekko Take a look. "Take a dekko at my new computer."

Demons Police

Desert rat A member of the army during the North African campaign of World War Two 1939-1945.

Do a bunk Disappear (from the scene)

Dodger Food - especially a piece of bread

Dodgy Difficult, awkward, tricky. "That's a dodgy investment"

Drongo A slow-witted person - "That drongo wouldn't know trees from grass"

Droopy drawers Sluggish, apathetic person.

Ducks and drakes Tremors after heavy drinking - "He's got the ducks and drakes after that party last night"

Ducks and geese Police

Duffer Rustler (American). A cattle stealer.

Dumb Dora. A stupid girl.

Dung puncher A homosexual

Dunlop overcoat A condom.

Dunno. I don't know.

Dunny Lavatory, washroom, bathroom, toilet. Originally used to refer to the "˜outhouse'. In Australia the "˜dunny' is now referred to as the "˜toilet'. The "˜bathroom' is just that i.e. the room, which contains the bath or shower as different from the lavatory.

Dust-up Fight.

Faceache A derogatory term implying the person spoken to is ugly. "Hey, faceache, come over here."

Full as a boot Very drunk.

Furfey Rumour

Giggle factory Lunatic asylum

Gregory Peck A cheque (check)

Grey nurse A purse (money purse).

Grizzle guts One who is constantly complaining.

Grouter Unfair advantage. "He got job that on the grouter." i.e. unfairly.

Grub stake In the gold rush days the prospectors were "˜grub staked' (provided with basic food stuffs) by grocers on the condition, if they struck "˜pay dirt' (gold), they would give the grocer a percentage of the mine takings. Today it means that somebody will finance a project.

Humdinger Great. "That was a humdinger hamburger."

Humping the bluey Another term for a swagman on the road. - "He humped his bluey from Gympie to Cunnamulla."

In the altogether Nude

Jack Howe The name given to a man's singlet (vest). Originated when the world's fastest shearer (with the hand clippers - never been beaten) took off his traditional flannel under shirt and tore out the sleeves. It became popular with shearers generally and the manufacturers began producing "˜singlets' or Jack Howes.

Jiggered Worn out. "I'm jiggered after that long walk." Also broken. "˜That toy is jiggered."

Joe Blake Snake

Joey A baby kangaroo.

Joker A man - That joker is a smart alec

Knocked up Very tired. After working hard all day: "After all that hard yakka I'm knocked up" During WW2 when American soldiers heard the expression from exhausted girls at local dances they were somewhat taken aback!

Lame brain A foolish, unintelligent person.

Lark A merry or hilarious adventure. "That was a bit of a lark."

Larrikin A lout - a hoodlum. A mischievous person.

Larry Dooley Give someone a thrashing, a beating - mugging.

Lie like a pig in mud Unconvincing liar. "He lies like a pig in mud."

Live wire An active person.

Lord Muck "He thinks he's Lord Muck". Thinks he is better than everybody else.

Lumpers Police

Mad as a cut snake Completely of his rocker - stupid.

Monkey suit Dinner suit

Nasho. A National Serviceman. Reference to compulsory recruitment during the Vietnamese War.

Never- never The Northern Territory of Australia. "˜We of the never-never" a book of the Territory

Noah's Ark A shark.

No-hoper A useless person.

Oiled Drunk.

Old Dart A reference to England.

Old woman "Don't let the old woman know." "Don't tell my wife." Also can refer to one's mother - depending on the context. Can also apply to a man who pedantic or tends to fuss or gossip. "He's a bloody old woman."

Onion Head. "G'day onion head." Meaning he has a dumb head. Mostly used affectionately but can be used derogatorily. That depends on the tone of voice.

Open slather Wide open. Ready for easy exploitation.

Paddy wagon Police car used to take prisoners to gaol.

Pain in the neck An obnoxious person.

Pitch and toss The boss

Pointing Percy at the porcelain. Urinating

Posh Grand. "That's a posh suit you're wearing" Originated from the expression "˜Port out starboard home' - the best way to travel by liner from England to Australia via the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa).

Prang A car crash. "He pranged his car on the weekend and it's a write off."

Priceless Absurd. Delightfully amusing. E.g. "That joke was priceless."

Puke Vomit

Put in the fangs To borrow

Putty (up to putty) Useless. "That old car is up to putty."

Ringer In Australia a cowboy is known as a "˜stockman' and is frequently called a "˜ringer'. The term also applies to the fastest shearer in a wool shed at shearing time. The term "˜cowboy' in Australia refers to what is called a roustabout in America. He tends the cows for milking and is a general dog's body around the house or "˜homestead'.

Ripper Great, good. "What a ripper game that was." "What a great game the was."

Rubbidy Hotel - pub.

Rumble A fight - usually a friendly fight between two mates.

Scarce as hen's teeth Very rare.

Shoot through Disappear (from the scene)

Smart alec Somebody pretending to be clever without the knowledge to back the claim

Snow job A distraction from the truth - "Are you doing a snow job on me?

Soak A drunk.

Sparkie An electrician

Sponger. One who lives off another. A free loader.

Stoned Drunk.

Swaggie A swagman - a tramp. From the Great Depression when so many were out of work. They would roll a swag (blanker roll, tin billy-can, some flour and some tea leaves) and walk the country looking for work.

Swinging the lead Doing nothing while work is to be done.

Tanked Drunk - "˜He got properly tanked last night."

The outback The country - well away from cities.

Tucker Food. "Where the dog sat on the tucker box." A well-known Aussie song.

Wonky. Unstable

Worry and strife Wife

Yak Talk - "All he does is yak all day."

Yakka Work - usually hard toil

2010 words.

Rhys Watkins

© High Speed Ventures 2011