Skip to main content

Due to the unexpectedly enthusiastic response to Australiana 101: Translations for non-Australians (part 1), a second installment is hereby offered to facilitate Australians explaining themselves because it's about time we did. As noted in last week'™s introduction, this infrequent series is published in the interests of fostering clear communication and nurturing positive global relationships. It is also intended to assist non-Australians to avoid possible pitfalls which may occur, for example: the use of the term "œroot" as elucidated in part 1.

If you inexplicably failed to peruse part 1, you can catch up here:

Australiana 101: Translations for non-Australians (part 1)

Graduates from part 1 will observe that the title this week has moved on to using the term "Aussies" (reminder: it is pronounced with a strong Z sound and not the soft S).

Part 2 will be addressing many examples and questions arising from comments following part 1. All comments were very much appreciated and I thank everyone who contributed.

That none of the following were included in part 1 was due to two reasons. Firstly, I did not wish to overwhelm new readers/learners with too much information - overdosing on new info is not recommended by any rational pedagogy, especially on a leisurely weekend. Secondly, what can I say - I just didn'™t think of these until they were brought to my attention!

In an effort on my part to appear organized and forward-thinking, Part 2 is divided into categories:


Strine: while lingo means language or more specifically, vernacular, strine refers to the Australian dialect. This varies in intensity depending where you are in the country. There'™s the incomprehensible-to-tourists accent found in Darwin, the distinctive slow drawl of far northern Queensland and the softer, almost-British tones of middle class Tasmanians.

Blue: argument, quarrel, fight, brawl

To turn the air blue: swearing up a storm

Food and drink

Tucker: food

Brekkie:“ breakfast

Smoko:“ morning and afternoon breaks for workers; does not necessarily involve smoking but does usually involve having a cuppa.

Cuppa:“ tea or coffee

Tea:“ two meanings (1) beverage (2) evening meal. NOTE: While having our fair share of nutjobs in parliament, Australia has no political faction called the Tea Party nor anything like it.

Billy: tin can used to boil water, tea, soup or stew over an open fire.

Billy tea: beverage brewed with a gum leaf in a billy

Gum tree: eucalyptus

Take-away:“ carry-out

Snag: sausage made from beef, pork or chicken meat.

Gourmet snags:“ sausages flavored with spices, herbs, honey or a combination thereof.

Sanga:“ sandwich (Yes, Positronicus, we really do eat vegemite sandwiches - yum!)

Tinny: two meanings (1) beer in a can and (2) small motor boat made of metal and usually used for river fishing.

Piss:“ In addition to the globally recognized meaning, Aussies also use this as a term for beer.

Sink piss:“ drink beer

Be pissed:“ inebriated. Happy American drunks may well be confused by the observation "You'™re pissed, mate!" when they are feeling decidedly congenial. The difference in meaning between the American version and the Australian version, is one word -“ see below.

Be pissed off: annoyed, angry

Pub:“ bar (Yes, blue muon, I've seen dogs in country pubs but not in the city).

Pub crawl: bar hopping


No Australian can journey from birth to death without attracting one or more nicknames in their lifetime. My username, Mopshell, was given to me by younger sibling Sally who couldn'™t get her tongue around Michelle. Why Sal thought Mopshell was easier to pronounce is known only to her; the rest of the family have never been able to figure it out.

Some nicknames are generated by the person's given name, some by their surname; there's no hard and fast rule with this. There are, however, certain standard nicknames. Males with the surname Clarke (must have the E on the end) are inevitably called Nobby just as red-haired blokes are invariably nicknamed Ginger or, more commonly, Bluey. As columnist "œNuggett" noted in the London Daily Express:

You see a red-headed Australian and you sing out, "Got, a match, Bluey?" and he smiles and gives you one. He doesn't knock you down; he smiles, and answers to the astonishing inexactitude with cheerful alacrity. It is very strange.
Nicknames aren'™t necessarily abbreviations. If you have a single syllable name, eg Marsh, you're likely to be called Marshy or Swampy. Australian cricket wicket-keeper, Rod Marsh, was given the nickname Bacchus. Though it was long-thought to have derived from the Victorian township of Bacchus Marsh, teammates were steadfast in their assertion that it was actually an abbreviation of "œback-us-up Marsh!" It must have inspired Rod because he went on to become one of the greatest wicket-keepers of all time and rarely missed even the most difficult of catches. See a photo of Rod Marsh in action here.


This is Australia'™s national summer sport. Americans seem to find this game complicated though I can'™t imagine why. Look, I'™ll explain it to you: a cricket team has 11 players.  Before play begins, a coin is tossed and the captains of the opposing teams call "œheads" or "œtails" to determine which team is in and which team is out for the first innings.

The team that is in goes out while the team that is out goes in until they each get out. When they're all out, they swap over for the second innings.

See? It'™s simple!


In the list of terms last week I included bloke which is a generic term for a male person. This week we kick off with the girls:

Sheila:“ generic term for female, regardless of her actual name

Mum: Mom

Ankle-biter: toddler

Nipper:“ young child

Bushranger: outlaw

Bogans:“ Australian version of American rednecks. In comments last week, KenBee asked if they were better or worse than their American counterparts and I promised him an answer this week. In my opinion they are better in two respects. Firstly, they're highly unlikely to own, let alone carry, a firearm of any description because of Australia's strict gun laws. After some initial push-back to the introduction of these laws, it soon waned to nothing and formerly gun-owning bogans have adjusted quickly to the no-gun policy. Secondly, there is no Christian Right in Australia; such a phenomenon is considered a bizarre eccentricity of the American South. While not irreligious, Bogans have no particular religious affiliation and are only likely to see the inside of a church on the occasion of christenings, weddings and funerals. They never quote the Bible but would quote their favorite footballer.

Yobbo: idiot, fool, stupid person or person with no manners

Mug:“ two meanings (1) face and (2) you idiot. The second meaning is often heard at various sporting venues where the enthusiastic barracker will refer to the referee/umpire as "œYa mug!" when disagreeing with his decisions.

'Ave a go ya mug!:“ advice given to under-performing players by enthusiastic barrackers.

NOTE: Enthusiastic, inebriated barrackers who shout a lot between slurps of beer, and throw their arms about in sweeping gestures, are yobbos.


Arvo: afternoon

No worries: okay by me, I'™m easy. In comments last week, CwV related this story:

Back in the late 80s, I had an Aussie friend in LA. He jumped off of tall things, like buildings and antennae. Bit of a nutter, lots of fun. I picked up some of his lingo because it was so useful, particularly "no worries". That one phrase has defused tense situations for me many times.
No wucking forries:“ common Spoonerism and a more emphatic form of "œno worries".

Get along with: have a congenial relationship with

Good going:“ you did well

Bloody good going, mate!:“ you did fantastically well!

'Ave a go: try, attempt; usually an expression of encouragement though may also be uttered when egging someone on in a fight.

You'™re on: I agree to what you'™re proposing provided my caveat is met, eg "Wanna go for a bit of a pub crawl tonight?" "œYou paying?" "œYeah" "You'™re on".

Good one: either the straight version "that was well done" or the sarcastic version "œyou really stuffed that up, didn'™t you". You can tell the difference by the tone of voice and the situation at hand.

Stuffed up: screwed up

Crook:“ sick (with thanks to Regis for reminding me of this one)

Crikey!:“ an exclamation of amazement or a way of drawing attention to something amazing; the late, great Steve Irwin was famous for this saying. (This one was included for gene s)

Rivalry with New Zealand

I was asked about this last week by Darmok and replied that it is a very friendly rivalry as you will see in this 48-second promotional video made about New Zealand by Australians:

100% New Zealand

If you'™ve come across some Aussie lingo and you'™re not sure of the meaning, please mention it in the comments. I'™m already drafting ideas for part 3. 'Ave a good weekend, everybody. (◕‿◕)

Originally posted to Mopshell on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 07:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by PostHuffPost: Connection-Conversation-Community , Cranky Grammarians, and Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site