Australia is known as “The Land Down Under” due to its location in the Southern Hemisphere. Its relative isolation from other English-speaking countries (excluding New Zealand) has given rise to a fascinating accent and plenty of uniquely Australian slang terms.
While learning how to speak with an Australian accent is no easy task, it’s a bit easier to learn their slang.
Whether you want to study abroad in Australia or you’re simply curious about the culture, learning the slang is a good way to figure out how Australians speak in casual conversations. So, what are some Australian slang terms you should know?
19 Australian Slang Terms to Know
There are plenty of terms that you’ll need to know if you want to sound like a real Aussie (Australian). Let’s take a look at 20 great Australian slang terms that you can hear “The Land Down Under”!
Depending on the context, Bogan can be a harsh insult or a compliment. In essence, “bogan” is the Australian term for “redneck.” It refers to any uncultured person, especially those who engage in behaviors associated with low social status.
“Sickie” is an example of an Australian’s ability to add an “ee” to the end of just about any word. This term is a short way of saying “sick day.” It is used when someone needs to stay home from school or work due to illness.
3. Sweet as
Australians frequently put the word “as” after adjectives to give them greater emphasis, though the most common example is “sweet as.” This term is used to replace exclamations like “great” or “awesome.” It’s similar to sayings in American English like “easy as pie” or “sweet as honey.”
While the correct spelling remains a mystery, “ta” is a shortened version of “thank you.” You will probably hear this in casual conservation between friends or acquaintances, though you could even hear it from complete strangers!
In addition to adding “ee” sounds at the end of words, Australians also like to shorten long words whenever possible. “Arvo” is just an abbreviation of “afternoon.” However, don’t get it confused with “avo,” which is the Australian slang for avocado!
“Cheers” has a wide range of uses in both Australian and British English. Generally, “cheers” is the Australian slang for goodbye, salutations, and even thank you’s. If you’re speaking with an Australian, you can almost certainly find a way to work “cheers” into the conversation!
7. Faffing around
“Faffing around” is the Australian version of “messing around.” You might hear a mother scold her children by saying: “Stop faffing around!” In essence, “faffing around” means wasting time or doing something unproductive.
Though it is not as common as it once was, “sheila” is the Australian slang for girl or woman. It originally came from the Irish name Síle, which was exclusively used with women. Nowadays, “sheila” is considered one of the milder Australian slang insults, so it's best not to use it.
Here we go again! Yet another shortened word with an “ee” sound! “Brekky” is the Australian abbreviation for “breakfast.” You can hear this phrase in restaurants, cafes, and homes throughout Australia.
10. Rack off
This is one of many not-so-nice Australian slang insults. “Rack off” is very similar to “get lost.” It essentially means that the person speaking wants someone to go away, though it can also just be a general show of displeasure with another person. Saying this to an Australian could quickly get you into trouble, so be careful!
The “bush” is another term for “the countryside.” It generally refers to a place that is far away from cities or towns. However, it can also refer more specifically to wooded areas. The bush is where people might go to surround themselves with nature and escape from modern life for a while. But if you find yourself wandering around the bush, careful not to get lost out there!
Beer is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in Australia, so it stands to reason that Aussies would have a special name for it. If you want a beer in Australia, you can simply ask for a “coldie.” However, don’t drink too many coldies or you might get “munted” (that’s a bonus Australian slang term for “drunk”)!
13. Flat out
While “flat out” is also used in American English, it typically has a different meaning than its Australian counterpart. In Australia, “flat out” is another way to say “very busy.” If someone has too much work to take on any new tasks, you might hear them say, “I’m flat out at the moment.”
“Heaps” is a common way to say “many” or “a lot” in Australia. It can be combined with pretty much any countable or non-countable noun to express a large quantity of something. Similarly, a heap generally refers to a large pile of objects in American English.
This term is an insult in Australia. “Derro” is an abbreviation of “derelict,” though it is often used as a way to criticize someone who is homeless or otherwise lacking in wealth. It is generally seen as a rude term used by those who look down on people with low status or income.
Australia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. If you get the chance to visit the Land Down Under, chances are you’ll need some bathers. This term is just the Australian way to say “swimsuit” or “bathing suit.”
A “bludger” is another word for a lazy person. The severity of the term will depend on the context. Sometimes bludger is used in a fun way, while other times it is meant as an insult.
If you’ve just gotten back from the bush, you might want more than a coldie. If so, you’ll have to head to your nearest Bottle-O, or “liquor store.” A Bottle-O can also refer to any shop that sells alcoholic beverages.
To end our list, we must address how Australians refer to their own country. The Australian accent is unique in that long vowels are also accompanied by shortened words. “Straya” is just a quick way to say “Australia.” Rather than saying all 4 syllables, many Australians shorten it to 2 syllables and get rid of the “L” sound entirely!
We hope you found this list of 19 great Australian slang terms useful. Every English dialect has its quirks, and Australian English is no different. The key is to accustom yourself to the Australian way of speaking so that you can sound like a native Aussie in no time!