“Arvo” and Other Aussie Slang

Living in Australia has left me no choice but to abandon all the sounds I’ve grown accustomed to and learn an entirely new kind of English: Aussie slang.  I thought it’d be fun to share a few of the necessary gems I’ve added to my vernacular and grown to love.

With the help of my handy Australian Slang guide, I’ve listed the words and definitions that seem to be the most commonly used.  I’ve also included some of my own interpretations of how the word is pronounced, as well as some American/Californian translations to provide a bit more context.  Enjoy!

– A –
acca dacca
(sounds like “acka-dacka”) the nickname for the Aussie rock band AC/DC
AFL an acronym for Australian Football League (like how Americans refer to the NFL)
airy-fairy means vague or absent-minded (like being ditzy)
alfoil means aluminum foil
alki, alky, alko, alco means alcoholic
All Blacks name for New Zealand’s national Rugby Union team
ambo an ambulance worker
Anzac used to describe any soldier from Australia or New Zealand (historically, from WWI)
Anzac biscuit a popular Australian cookie made from rolled oats and syrup (it’s about as popular as the Oreo)
around the traps means around the place or out and about
arvo (sounds like “ah-vo”) means afternoon
Aussie Rules refers to for Australian Rules football
avo short for avocado

– B –
back of Bourke
 phrase referring to any out-of-the-way or remote place (we’d call it the boondocks or podunk)
bang on means exactly right; but also means to talk incessantly or repetitiously (like a chatterbox)
barkin’ like a dog or just barkin’ refers to the stomach is growling or feeling hungry
barney (sounds like “bah-nee”)means a fight or argument
Barnsey (sounds like “bahnzee”) a nickname for singer Jimmy Barnes (or anyone with the last name Barnes)
barra means a barramundi which is a popular fish in Australia
beaut, beauty, bewdy is an expression of agreement or satisfaction
beer o’clock means time for a beer
bickie, bikkie short for a biscuit (what we would call cookies)
bikie a motorbike rider who is a member of a motorbike club or gang
billabong a waterhole
bingle a minor vehicle accident
bit average usually describes something that’s really quite bad (like how we say something sucks)
blind means very drunk
blind as a bandicoot having poor sight or actually blind
bloody oath! can mean i agree! or that’s right! but can also be used as a general exclamation of surprise or even annoyance
bludge means to be idle or lazy; also can refer to something simple or that doesn’t require much effort
bludger refers to a person who takes advantage, especially of the welfare system
blue means an argument or a brawl
bluebottle is another name for the poisonous Portuguese jellyfish
bluey a term of address for a red-haired person
boardies short for board shorts
bollocks! means nonsense! but can also mean testicles
boofhead means a dim-witted or foolish person (usually a light-hearted insult)
bottle-o refers to a bottle shop (what we’d call a liquor store)
brekkie (brekky) means breakfast
brolly short for umbrella
bub means baby
bubbler means a drinking fountain
bucks’ night is the equivalent of a bachelor’s party
budgie smugglers are what we could call Speedos
bugger (sounds like “buggah”) can be an expression of annoyance; also can refer to a man; can also refer to someone annoying
bugger-all means nothing or a very small amount
buggered means tired or worn out; can also mean broken
bugger-off!
means get lost!

– C –
cack oneself, to 
means to laugh heartily (Americans would say “he cracked up”, Aussies say “he cacked himself”)
cakehole means mouth (instead of saying “shut up”, Aussies say “shut your cakehole”)
champ means an all-around good person
cheap as chips  means inexpensive and of poor quality
chippie is a carpenter
chips means French fries or packaged potato chips
chockers (sounds like “chokkuhz”) means very full (instead of describing the bus as jam packed, they’d say it’s “chokkers”)
chockies is short for chocolates
chook means chicken or chicken meat; can also refer to a woman
chuck a sickie to call into work sick, especially dishonestly
chuckin’ laps is another way to refer to doing mainies (see “mainies” below)
chuck your lolly is another way of saying spit the dummy (see “spit the dummy” below)
chunder means vomit
click means a kilometre (for example, my friend lives about 10 clicks from here)
cobber means friend
coldie is a cold beer
come again?  excuse me? pardon? could you say it again?
cooee! a loud and often echoing cry used to attract attention
copper (sounds like “koppuh”) a police officer
cossie, cozzie is a swimsuit/bathing suit, bikini, etc.
crack on to means to hit on or chat up (like if a dude is trying to pick up a girl or hit on her, they’d say he’s cracking on to her)
crack the whip to push someone to work or perform a task more quickly
crim means criminal
crook means sick or ill; can also mean to get angry at someone
crownie is short for the Aussie beer Crown Lager
cuppa means a cup of tea
cut, to be means to be really annoyed or angry

– D –
dack
means to pull someone’s pants down
daks means trousers or pants
D and M means deep and meaningful referring to a serious conversation
darb cigarette
darl means darling and is usually used to address any woman
dart is a cigarette
dirty on, be means to be angry or annoyed with something or someone
dob in, dob on means to report someone’s misbehaviour or tell tales on someone (like saying to rat someone out)
docket is a receipt
dole, the is welfare benefits paid by the government
domestic, a refers to a domestic dispute or fight
doodle is a penis or dick
doona is any quilt or heavy top blanket like a duvet (what we call comforters)
dunny means a toilet (like saying the can or the throne)
durry is a cigarette
dust-up is a punch-up or fight

– E –
easy
means unconcerned as to the outcome of a particular matter (like saying “it’s all good” they’d say, “i’m easy”)
esky is any portable cooler for food and drinks
exxy, exy means expensive or dear

– F –
fair dinkum
means genuine, honest and fair; truly
fair enough is an expression of general approval or consent
fair go is a fair or reasonable dealing
fairy bread a sweet treat often served at children’s parties
fairy floss is their term for cotton candy
feral  means disgusting or dirty; also uncontrollable or disobedient
firey is a fireman
flat-chat means very fast
flat out 
means very busy; working extremely hard; also lying face down
footie, footy  means football, usually Australian Rules football
footpath  means sidewalk
frog and toad means road (they say “Let’s hit the frog and toad”)
full-on means extreme, serious, weighty or challenging

– G –
galah 
means a silly, foolish or loud person
get out of it, go on..git! an expression usually spoken by a parent (the father) to a child as a reprimand
get stuck in/into means to begin a task with energy; could also mean to attack someone verbally
give it a bash means to make an attempt at something (we’d say to give it a whirl or a try)
gob means mouth (again, like shut up they’d say “shut your gob!”)
good onya! onya! means well done! (we’d say good for you, they say good ON you)
good value describes a person, usually someone who is entertaining, pleasant, likeable
grog means alcohol
gutless wonder means a coward or wimp
guts is an adjective describing someone who is greedily eating too much food (for example, a parent might say to his/her child who is overindulging, “Don’t be a guts.”)

– H –
had a few means drunk
hard yards, do the  means to work hard or put a lot of time and energy into something
have a go means to give it a try; can also refer to insulting someone (would be referred to as having a go at him or her)
heaps means a lot
hens’ night is a bachelorette party
hooroo! means goodbye!
howzat? means how is that?

– I –
in like Flynn means enthusiastic, eager or quick to act
ice block means a popsicle or some sort of flavoured frozen ice treat

– J –
jaffa refers to a person from New Zealand
joey is an infant marsupial (kangaroo, possum, koala, or wombat)
journo means journalist
jumper (sounds like “jumpuh”) is a sweater, jacket, or pullover

– K –
kiddies means children
king-hit  means to strike or punch unexpectedly
kip, kipper means a brief sleep or snooze (what we’d call a nap)
Kiwi a person from New Zealand or an adjective relating to New Zealand
knackered  means exhausted or worn out
knickers women’s underwear

– L –
larrikin 
is an unruly or mischievous person, usually male
lay-by is the same thing as “layaway” in America
lemon squash, lemonade is a lemon flavoured soft drink (like Sprite or 7UP; it is not fresh squeezed lemonade)
little tacker means a child
lolly means candy or any kind of sweet confectionery
loo is a toilet
lose the plot or lost the plot  means to become confused or irrational

– M –
Maccas means McDonald’s
mainies refers to driving up and down a main road in your car just to be seen
Mexican any person who lives south of the NSW/Queensland border
milk bar a small local shop selling milk, bread, sweets, snacks, and groceries
mob is any group of people or animals
mozzie, mossie  means a mosquito; can also refer to a New Zealander living in Australia
muck up, muckin’ round means to misbehave; also means to ruin or spoil
mudguts means diarrhoea
mug is a foolish or gullible person
mullygrubber is a cricket term that refers to a ball hitting the ground and rolling instead of bouncing

– N –
nags means horses
nappie, nappy means diaper
narky  means in a bad mood or irritable
nick off means to leave or depart (we’d say “to jet”)
nipper is a junior lifesaver
not happy, Jan! an expression of irritation or annoyance
no worries  means don’t worry, you’re welcome; not a problem; don’t worry about it; okay; yes
no wucking furries, no wukkas, no wuckers also means no worries

– O –
ocker 
(sounds like “ah-kuh”) a person who is likely to be uncultivated or ignorant
oi! a call to get someone’s attention
on a good wicket  means to be in a situation that is useful or profitable
on the piss  means on a drinking spree
on your bike! is an expression that is sometimes used instead of “piss off” or “get lost”

– P –
pash means an enthusiastic or deep kiss
perv, perve to watch or look at lustfully; a person who pervs
petrol-head a person who is very interested in cars and usually motor racing
piss means urine; to urinate; also means alcohol, especially beer
pissed means drunk; also means angry
pisser means a pub; a penis; something really bad; something really good; something really funny
wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire an expression said of a nasty, callous person
pokies short for poker machines
pom, pommie, pommy refers to a person from England

– Q –
quick quid, a 
means a quick buck or money earned or acquired quickly

– R –
rack off! 
means go away! get lost!
rashie means a rash guard, the lycra top worn under a wetsuit
reckon, I means I think so; absolutely; I agree
rellos  means relatives
ridgy-didge  means the truth
ripper (sounds like “rippah”) means something wonderful or admirable
roach means cockroach
rock up means to arrive, often without invitation or prior notice
rooted means exhausted; also broken, ruined, or destroyed
rough as guts  means uncultured or wild
rug up  means to wear warm clothes for cold weather
runner, do a  means to depart or flee, usually to dodge a responsibility (we’d call it ditching)
running writing  is what they call cursive or script style writing (the Brits call it “joined-up writing”)

– S –
sandfly any person from Western Australia
sambo, sambie, sanger means a sandwich
scads means large amount; lots
scratchie, scratchy is an instant-win lottery ticket that you scratch
Seppo is short for septic tank which means Yank (see “Yank” below)
servo is short for service station (what we’d call a gas station)
sheila means a girl or woman
shocker, a means something terrible, dreadful or unfashionable
shout  means to treat somebody by paying for their share of something
sickie time taken off from work for illness, often pretend illness
skull usually said repeatedly (“skull! skull! skull!”) or as a phrase (“skull it!”) when at a pub, in an effort to encourage someone to quickly finish his/her drink in one big swallow
snag means a sausage
sook  means a timid person, coward, or cry baby
sparrow’s fart means daybreak or very early in the morning
spewing means to be extremely angry or irritated
spider a soft drink with ice-cream added to it
spit the dummy means to totally lose patience and become enraged
sprog is another word for a child
squatter is a person who established a home in some location, often without permission to do so
squiz, to have a squizzy means to have a look or peek at something in particular
stuff up  means to botch or make a mess of things (we’d say to screw up)
sunnies means sunglasses
super refers to Superannuation (an Aussie version of social security or a 401k)
suss means suspect or suspicious
suss out  means to check out or investigate
sweet FA means nothing or almost nothing (an abbreviation of sweet f*ck all); they’d say “I’m doing sweet FA this weekend”

– T –
ta 
means thank you
take the piss means to make fun of or tease
tall poppy  means a successful or celebrated person
tea means dinner
togs are swimming trunks
tonguing for a beer means to be really thirsty and ready for a beer
too right! means you bet! that’s true!
trackies, trackie daks refers to tracksuits (what we call sweatsuits)
tradie is a tradesperson
tucker means food
tuckered out means tired or worn out
two-up is a traditional Australian gambling game

– U –
unco 
means uncoordinated; also refers to a clumsy person
uni means university
up the duff means pregnant
ute is short for a utility vehicle

– W –
wag means to skip a class or an entire day of school or work
walkabout, go to roam or drift around the country; to wander off or disappear for an unspecified amount of time
westie a derogatory term describing a person who comes from the western suburbs of Sydney or Melbourne
whinge means to whine, grumble, or complain
wog a term usually referring to a person with Italian, Lebanese, Greek, or similar background
wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire a phrase used to describe someone you loathe
wrapped, rapt means pleased or very enthusiastic

– X, Y, Z – 
XXXX is a brand of Aussie beer popular in Queensland
Yank means an American
Yank tank  is a large, American-designed car
yobbo, yob  is a bogan, hoodlum or uncouth person
you little beauty! is an exclamation of joy
zonked means very tired, worn out or sleepy

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29 thoughts on ““Arvo” and Other Aussie Slang

  1. Lol interesting reading again about our lingo … Thought we didnt use a lot of the old slang much these days, but reading again i realise we still do … And take it for granted that others know what we mean 🙂 welcome to the great southern land down under 🙂

    1. Thanks!!! I’m so happy to know that someone native to the “Aussie tongue” has taken the time to go through this list. Let me know if there’s anything you think is worth adding to it! Or if I’ve gotten any definitions mixed up, please let me know, too. Learning the lingo is actually one of my favourite things about living here. It’s such a great representation of Aussie culture: fun and easy going! 😉

      1. A couple more, which might be a little more regional:
        “butchers” – to look at something. “Hey Ron, have a butchers at what’s in the back of his ute!”

        “sticky beak” – noun: someone who insists on pursuing things that are none of their business; the nosy neighbour. “Sheila’s a bloody sticky beak!” Verb: putting your nose in when it’s not wanted, often said jokingly or self-deprecatingly . “Cooee, loves, just thought I’d have a quick sticky beak and see what you’re up to!”

  2. A couple more for your list from Cane Toad country:
    Mexican – any person that lives south of the NSW/Queensland border
    Sandfly – any person from Western Australia
    Darb – cigarette
    Roach – Cockroach/NSWelshman/Butt of a roll your own cigarette
    Rollie – Roll your own cigarette
    Mozzie – Kiwi living in Australia. Portmanteau of Mock Aussie
    Seppo – Yank
    Chuckin’ Laps – Mainies
    Chuck your lolly – Spit the Dummy
    Firey – Fireman
    Sprog – Child

    and on it goes.. 🙂 Gotta luv it, Darl. Nuthin’ like Godsown!

  3. Made me homesick 🙂 I don’t think you’ve fully grasped the entirety of the word ‘bugger’ though. And it’s a great word.

    Bugger me! – What a surprise!
    Bugger you – Well, you can go away now. To hell, preferably.
    Bugger it – I give up and no longer care.
    You bugger! – Either: What a cheeky person you are or, You may go to hell.
    Bugger – the quieter and calmer it’s said, the bigger the disaster.
    Bugger off – see Bugger you.
    She’s a bugger, all right – This is a problematic situation.
    I’ll be buggered – see Bugger me.
    Go to buggery – Go to hell.

    I’m sure there’s more but I’m buggered now. As in tired. Not in the literal sense of the word.

  4. A jafa is a term kiwis use for Aucklanders, not Aussies for kiwis (or they may be confused Aussies?) Also a mozzie is mainly used for Maori’s in Aussie. Footy is all terms of football, not just AFL and dock is short for a documentary 🙂 good to know you’ve got most of it down pat – and living in the UK now I have to explain a lot of these words, as I forget a lot a uniquely Australian (however some are common here, like bollocks!)

  5. How about the word ‘yarn’ as in to have a chat. Example: “I better have a yarn to that mob, they’ve buggered it up.”

    Also ‘youse’ refering to a group of people. Example: “Are youse going out tonight?” “I told youse kids to leave that alone!” Although educated Aussies ‘wouldn’t be caught dead’ saying this one!
    It’s usually a favourite term of ‘bogans’. Lol

    1. I grew up in Sydney and never heard WAs referred to as sandflies. The term I heard was always sandgropers. Maybe Melbournians? They are a different breed, after all. 😉

  6. “Not happy, Jan!”

    Ah, yes!! Do you know the source of this one? A TV ad. (Translation: television advertisement.) According to the ad, the newest Yellow Pages (phone book with business entries, rather than private individuals) had just been published and a woman of authority in the company had discovered that their business isn’t in the book. It’s the responsibility of a business to apply to the main telephone company if they wish to be included in the book, so the woman goes to Jan, the woman who was responsible for submitting a request to the phone company, to find out if she knows why they aren’t in the book. The ad would end with Jan sneaking out of the building and running down the street to try and get them into the book (bit hard when it’s been published!) with the boss woman working out where she’s gone and leaning out of the window raising her voice in a ‘controlled’ rebuke, and calling after her, “Not HAP-py, Jan!”

    And they say television doesn’t affect us! This one affected our cultural expressions. 😀

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