Speakin’ Strine: An Aussie Glossary

Yes, Australians speak English, and no, you will not understand everything they say. You’ll want at least a basic understanding of Aussie terminology before you visit:

Shorties: Many Aussie words are shortened from the original English to end in -y, -ie, or -o. This is undoubtedly just to make it difficult for us foreigners to keep up with the conversation.

For example, a grown man will take a tinnie (beer) to the footy (football game), save his mate (friend) a possie (position, as in space, spot, seat), and be aggro (aggravated) if someone tries to nick (steal) the seat.

Or you might be invited to a barby (barbeque) in the arvo (afternoon) after opening prezzies (presents) from the rellies or relos (relatives) on Chrissy (Christmas Day).

Rhyming Slang: It began with 18th-century cockney convicts transported Down Under, and over time morphed into a unique subsector of the language: descriptive rhymes substituting for words. For example, trouble and strife = wife, cheese and kisses = Mrs., and billy lids = kids.

If you’re asked to, “Pick up the Al Capone” it means, “Pick up the phone” and if someone suggests you wear a “bag of fruit,” she simply means you should put on a suit. If you’re “going it Pat Malone,” it means you’re alone.

There is no possible way to figure out Rhyming Slang; you must rely entirely on the kindness of your Aussie hosts to decipher it for you!

Aussie Battlers: Some Aussie expressions have grown out of the unique world view from Down Under. Aussie Battler, for example, is a complimentary term for the average working person who’s always trying to get ahead, but never quite making it, despite his or her courage or persistence.

A tall poppy is an achiever who becomes well-known in the process; it can be a derisive term implying arrogance or success at someone else’s expense. A dag is an untrendy or unsociable person; the term comes sheep dags (“dirt” caught in the fleece around sheep’s butts). And whilst an American might have “bats in the belfrey,” an Aussie could have “kangaroos in the top paddock.”

Danger Zone: Some Aussie words and phrases sound like American English, but mean something quite different. You’ll want to know the following to avoid embarassing miscommunications:

At the footy, you “barrack” for your favorite team rather than rooting, which has a sexual connotation. Likewise, if an Aussie tells someone to “get stuffed,” he is not talking about eating.

And please use the term “bum bag” rather than “fanny pack,” which would be quite a rude phrase Down Under.aggro

Here’s a glossary you might find helpful:


aggro: aggravated

Al Capone (rhyming slang): phone

arvo: afternoon

Aussie Rules: Australian Rules Football

Aussie battler, battler: hard-working underdog

Aussie salute: shooing away flies


back of beyond: way out in the middle of nowhere

bag of fruit (rhyming slang): suit

bangers: sausages

barrack: to cheer for a team

bathers: swimsuit

bug (Moreton Bay bug): lobster-like seafood

beaut!: great! (beautiful)

bloke: guy

Bob’s your uncle!: Everything’s great!

bonnet (of a car): hood (car)

bonza: great

boot (of a car): trunk (car)

bot: borrow (or have)

buggered: exhausted


capsicums: bell peppers

car park: parking lot

chewie: chewing gum


cuppa: a cup of (tea, coffee, etc.)


daggy: outdated, uncool

de facto: live-in boyfriend or girlfind

dead horse: rhyming slang for tomato sauce (ketchup)

dinkum: honest

dinky-di: true blue

dunny: outhouse


fair dinkum: honest

fair go: fair chance

fairy floss: cotton candy

footy: Australian Rules Football


G’Day!: Hello!

Good on ya!: Good job!

gridiron: American footall


littlies: little kids

loo: bathroom, toilet

lounge room: living room


mate: good friend (used by men and refers to men)

milk bar: small grocery store

mozzies: mosquitoes

muck things up: mess things up


nappies: diapers

the Never Never: the middle of nowhere

no worries: nothing to worry about


savories: hors d’oeuvres

septic tanks (rhyming slang): Yanks, Americans

serviettes: napkins

She’s sweet!: Everything’s great!

She’s apples!: Everything’s great!

sheila: woman (used by a man; not particularly complimentary)

She’ll be right: It’ll be fine

shout: pay for someone’s drink, or for a round of drinks, as in: It’s my shout.

smoko: a break (at work; not necessarily for a cigarette)

spot on: exactly

squash: soda pop

squiz: quick look

starkers: nude

sticky wicket: awkward situation

sticky beak: nosy person

‘Strine: Australian (as pronounced by an Australian)


take the mickey out: tease

takeaway: takeout food

tall poppy: high achiever (not a compliment)

tea: supper

tinny: can of beer

tucker: food


whinge: whine or complain

windcheater: windbreaker jacket

4 Responses to “Speakin’ Strine: An Aussie Glossary”

  1. HCG Dangers says:

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  2. Lindsay Cantlow says:

    Writers are not appreciated enough, many thanks for taking the time to post this.

  3. Lyndon says:

    Here’s a few more sayings to add to the Aussie ‘Strine’ list.
    What lingo? – What language?
    Back of Burke } out in the bush away from civilisation
    In theOutback } out in the bush away from civilisation
    Back of Beyond} out in the bush away from civilisation
    the Never Never} out in the bush away from civilisation
    Crook – unwell or sick
    Cuppa or Brew – Cup of coffee or Tea
    The Poms – The English
    The Irish – The Mad Micks
    The Scottish – The Jocks

    Jocks – underpants/underwear (not as above)

    Shake Hands With The Wifes Best Friend } Terminologies
    Strain the spuds or peas } used when
    Splash the Boots } males need to
    Syphon The Python } go to the toilet
    Drain the Dragon } or bathroom

    Driving the white porcelain trolley bus – sick in the toilet bowl
    Having a Yodel – as above
    having a chunder – as above

    Budgie Smugglers – Male bikini swimming briefs
    Getters or Thongs (invented in Australia} – Flip Flops

    many more to come, stay tuned

  4. Edward says:

    Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful article.
    Thanks for providing this information.

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