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A guide to interpreting Australian slang

3 minute read
four people sitting on the verandah, chatting with food and drinks

Australians can be difficult to understand, because we’re fond of shortening or changing words – especially adding an “io”, “o” or “ah” sound to the end of a word.

Interestingly, Australia became the only country in the world to have popular fast food chain McDonalds rebrand their signs to say “Maccas” in some locations, because it’s what most Australians call it.

As it can be pretty confusing, here’s a definitive guide to Australian slang.

Slang when describing people, actions or emotions:

  • Arvo or S'arvo: means afternoon or this afternoon. “Meet you there this arvo!”
  • Bloody oath: means of course. “Bloody oath I want to come to your party.”
  • Crikey: is an expression of surprise. “Crikey, that car was driving fast!”
  • Dodgy: this refers to something or someone that is poor quality, unreliable or suspicious. For example, a dodgy sandwich may be spoiled, while a dodgy area means an area that is unsafe. “Let’s not eat here. That food looks dodgy.”
  • Full on: means intense. “That exam was full on.”
  • G'day: means hello. “G’day, how are you?”
  • How ya going/How’s it going: this refers to someone wanting to know how you are feeling. “Hi, how’s it going?”
  • No dramas/no worries/she’ll be right: these phrases mean that there is no concern. “If you can’t make it to the movies, no dramas.”
  • Stop mucking around: means to stop wasting time. “We're going to be late, stop mucking around!”
  • Thongs: means flip flops. “The sand might be hot so wear your thongs.”
two girls sitting at a table and chatting over breakfast

Australian slang for emotions:

  • Aggro: means angry, aggressive or something that may cause aggravation. “I hope my housemate cleaned up their dirty dishes because I don’t want to get aggro.”
  • Devo: means devastated. “I’m so devo our holiday is over.”

Australian social and food slang:

  • Avo: is referring to avocado. “Would you like avo on your sandwich?”
  • Barbie: means barbeque. “Let’s buy some sausages for the barbie.”
  • Brekky: means breakfast. “Would you like to grab some brekky tomorrow?”
  • Crack a cold one/Crack a tinny: these both mean having a beer. “It’s Friday night. Let’s crack a cold one!”
  • Cuppa: means a cup of tea or coffee. “Would you like a cuppa?”
  • I’m stuffed: if this is following a meal, it means they are full, while if it is said after a long day, it may mean they are tired! “I can’t eat another bite, I’m stuffed!”
  • It’s my shout/I’ll get this round: the person who says this intends to pay for the drinks or meal. “Don’t get your wallet out, it’s my shout.”

Just remember, Australians are easy going and aware their language – especially their slang, is hard to understand, so if you’re ever confused, just ask what they mean.

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For more information about all things Australia, visit the dedicated Life in Australia section of The Check Up.

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