There are quite a few words used in Australia that are not used anywhere else in the world. They can be a source of confusion, mystery and amusement for visitors to the Land Down Under!
It can be a lot of fun learning the meaning and origins of these bizarre and humorous phrases which reflect the country's history and experiences. Aussie slang contains words sourced from Aboriginal language, our convict origins, the gold rushes of the nineteenth century, World War I, the bush-ranger period (1790s to 1880s) and modern events.
Australian Slang Examples
Here is a selection of some of the most common words and phrases belonging to Australia's unique local lingo.
Ankle Biter: small child
Bloody: an adjective used to emphasize a point or story e.g. "Bloody oath!" That's certainly true!
Bloody is not seen as an offensive word by most Australians. It is however considered offensive language by other parts of the world.
In 2006 Tourism Australia ran an ad campaign entitled ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ in an attempt to promote Australia’s profile overseas and attract more tourists. The ad was temporarily banned in Britain because of its use of the word ‘bloody’, and also in Canada for its implication of ‘unbranded alcohol consumption’ by using the opening line, ‘We've bought you a beer’. In Singapore, the ad was run as ‘So where are you?’. This situation highlights the more conservative attitude towards language in many countries compared to Australia.
Bob's Yer Uncle / Bob's Your Uncle: There you go. It means everything's will be alright if you do the thing that is said before this phrase e.g. "Just add some water and Bob's yer uncle."
Buckley's Chance: No chance e.g. "England has got Buckely's chance of beating Australian in the cricket match."
Cake Hole: Mouth
Cossie: Swimming costume / swimsuit
Crikey: general exclamation of surprise or astonishment e.g. "Crikey! Look at the size of the teeth on that crocodile!"
Fair Dinkum: Someone or something really genuine.
All of these terms and phrases are emblazoned across the Bib Apron and Stubby Holder in the Great Aussie Slang Pack by Alperstein Designs. This collection of Aussie slang vocabulary can also be found on our Aussie Slang Tea Towels.
G'Day Mate: Australian greeting that means hello. It's a shortened form of Good Day. A mate is a good friend but the term can be used when greeting strangers.
Good on Ya: Good on you! Well done
Grouse: Great, awesome, very good.
Hooroo: Goodbye, see you later.
No Worries: No problem, you're welcome (expression of forgiveness or reassurance).
She'll Be Right Mate:It'll be ok, don't worry.
Strewth: general exclamation of of disbelief or shock, similar to "Crikey" e.g. "Strewth, that Darren is a bonzer bloke"
Up Woop Woop: Woop woop is used to refer to any small unimportant town that is far away or in the middle of nowhere. E.g. "He lives up woop woop."
What is Rhyming Slang?
Rhyming slang is usually two or more words where the last of the words rhymes with the word it's replacing. For example, Steak and Kidney = Sydney.
Some people believe that Australian rhyming slang came from the original convicts who came to Australia from England as London's East Enders have their own Cockney rhyming slang. There are different theories floating around about why rhyming slang was developed. Whether it was a linguistic accident, a way for criminals to confuse the police or simply a method for men to disguise other language, the story behind the origination of this way of communicating remains unclear
Here are a few classic examples of Aussie rhyming slang.
Barry Crocker - a shocker, a poor performance, derived from the Australian actor/singer Barry Crocker
Trouble and Strife - wife
You Beaut - ute (utility vehicle/ pick-up truck)
These examples of rhyming slang and more can be found on the Aussie Rhyming Slang Tea Towel by Kirsten Hamworth Textiles. These fun kitchen accessories make wonderful lighthearted Australian souvenirs for friends and family overseas or a unique Australiana gift.
To find more fun gifts celebrating Australia's colourful vocabulary head to our vibrant online store. You will find lots of fabulous homewares, accessories and souvenirs which celebrate Australia's humour, culture and lifestyle.