In honor of Australia Day (celebrated on the 26th January) and our laid back brothers and sisters Down Under, we’ve put together a list of ten Aussie expressions everyone should master (along with the world-famous “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, oi, oi” chant, of course!)
Aussies are as relaxed about their language as they are about life, so using some (or all) of these expressions will bring your stress levels down and help you see the world from that characteristically chilled out Aussie perspective. If you’re a foreigner living in Australia or planning to visit soon, making an extra effort to adopt some of the slang is essential for your survival as everyone from the handsome barista at your favorite coffee shop to the Prime Minister will be using it.
We’ve thrown in a few pronunciation tips at the end so you sound as authentic as possible when you test out those “g’day’s” and “good on ya’s” on your new “mates”.
What does it mean? Obvious and easy (we hope). You won’t catch Australians calling themselves Australian. They’ll say Aussie. Why, you ask? Well, it’s shorter to start. It also sounds more friendly and cuddly, just like those koala bears you’ve always dreamed of hugging.
How do you use it? “Did you meet my friend yesterday?” “You mean the Aussie? Yes, I did.”
What does it mean? Another word for friend. Common in Britain as well, but used even more enthusiastically by Aussies, who pepper the ends of their sentences with a longer, stretched out “maaaaate” that conveys friendliness and establishes a relaxed bond between the speakers. Can also be used to start a sentence, for effect.
How do you use it? “Sorry, can you tell me what time the train leaves?”, “At 2 o’clock, mate” or “Mate. You won’t believe what I saw”.
What does it mean? General greeting, used instead of “hello”, both day and night. Often combined with “mate”, as in…
How do you use it? “G’day, mate!” (mostly used by men though, not so often by women.)
4. “How are you going?”
What does it mean? Nothing to do with where you may or may not be going. Aussies use it to ask “how are you?” or to say “are you OK?” or “do you need help (with that task)?”
How do you use it? When someone asks: “How are you going?”, you can just answer normally with a “Good, thanks” or “Good, but…” if you need help with something and the question was formulated with that angle in mind.
5. “Good on ya”
What does it mean? Short for “good on you”. Way to show approval (like “well done”, “good job”) and express heartfelt congratulations. Also used to replace expressions like “really?”, “oh yeah” etc. in casual conversation. It can also be used sarcastically, ie. when you want to be a little mean, but don’t want to actually utter a mean word.
How do you use it? Positive: “Good on ya, mate. You really aced that exam!” Sarcastic: “You broke a surf board again. Good on ya, mate.”
6. “I’m stuffed”
What does it mean? Americans would use this to mean they’re full (of food), but Aussies also use it to say that they’re tired or in trouble.
How do you use it? Depends on what you want to say. If you want to say you’re tired, just say “I had a tough day at work today. I’m stuffed.”
7. “No worries”
What does it mean? Used to mean everything from “you’re welcome” to “relax”. You’ll hear this one all the time in lots of different situations.
How do you use it? “Thanks for buying me that concert ticket.” “No worries.”
What does it mean? Swimsuit, swim trunks
How do you use it? “Don’t forget your togs, we’re going to the beach today!”
What does it mean? Short for barbeque, not the toy you played with as a kid. Aussies are almost as committed to barbecuing as South Africans and Americans, and even holidays like Christmas are celebrated with a relaxed, sun-soaked family barbie at the beach, not a formal sit-down dinner like in Europe.
How do you use it? “Rob’s having a barbie at the beach today.”
What does it mean? Portable (drinks) cooler for short. Aussies bring their eskys with them to that said beach barbie in order to keep the drinks cool. It gets really hot in the summer in Australia, so you better have that esky on hand to keep the cool drinks flowing and your body temperature at tolerable levels.
How do you use it? “Don’t forget the esky! It’s hot out today!”
BONUS: Aussies don’t pronounce r’s at the end of words (they say “foreva”, “togetha” etc. instead of “forever”, “together”) or g’s (they say “fishin’, drivin’ etc. instead of “fishing” or “driving”). More pronunciation tips here.