100 Australian Slang Words & Phrases

by IELTS Australasia — August 16th, 2019

There are lots of Australian slang words that you should learn when you live in Australia. Whether you’re here for a couple of weeks as a tourist, or if you’re here for work and study, this list of 100 Australian slang words and phrases will help you understand the Aussies like a local.

What is slang? And when do you use slang?

When you learn English, you’re taught how to speak and write ‘proper’ English. Some people call this “Queen’s English” or “BBC English.” Then, when you travel to an English-speaking country, you may come across terms you’ve never heard before.

The Encyclopædia Britcannica defines slang as “unconventional words or phrases that express either something new or something old in a new way. It is flippant, irreverent, indecorous; it may be indecent or obscene.” Slightly confusing, right? So, that’s why we simply define slang very informal language or specific words used by a group of people. Usually you’ll hear slang in spoken language. You can also come across it in SMS or social media. However, you don’t use slang in formal written work.

As a non-native English speaker, when you use slang correctly (and in the appropriate situation), it can make you sound more natural in your speech. Also, it can show your understanding of English in a social context. For example, using slang with your mates is good. But if the conversation is more formal, you probably want to avoid slang words and phrases.

So, try to make sure you use slang correctly. When you use it out of context or inappropriately, it sounds strange and could show that you don’t understand the language. Now let’s have a look at the 100 most common Aussie slang words and phrases.

100 Australian Slang Words & Phrases

Aussie slang word/phrase
Meaning
A Cold OneBeer
ArvoAfternoon
Aussie SaluteWave to scare the flies
AvoAvocado
BailTo cancel plans
BarbieBarbecue
BathersSwimsuit
BeautyGreat!
BillabongA pond in a dry riverbed
BillyTeapot (in the outback on the fire)
BloodyVery
Bloody oathYes! Or “That’s very true”
BludgerSomeone who’s lazy
BoganSomeone who’s not very sophisticated
Booze BusPolice vehicle used to catch drunk drivers
Bottle-OLiquor shop: a place to buy alcohol
BrekkyBreakfast
BrollyUmbrella
Budgie SmugglersSpeedos
Bush“Out in the bush” or away from civilisation
Choc A BlocFull
BiccyBiscuit
ChookChicken
ChrissieChristmas
CobberVery good friend
ColdieBeer
CoppersPolicemen
Crikeyan expression of surprise
CrookBeing ill (I’m crook); a criminal (he’s a crook)
DagSomeone who’s a bit of a nerd or geek
DaksTrousers
DeadsetThat’s true, or true!
DefoDefinitely
DevoDevastated
Drongoa Fool, ‘Don’t be a drongo mate’
DunnyToilet
DurryCigarette
EskyAn insulated container that keeps things cold
FaceyFacebook
Fair DinkumHonestly? Or, Yes honestly!
Flannie / Flannoflannelette shirt
Flat outReally busy
FootyFootball (AFL / Aussie Rules)
G’dayHello
GalahNot being bright, also a stupid person
GnarlyAwesome
Going offBusy, lots of people
Good On YaGood work
GoonWine in a box
Hard yakkaHard work
HeapsLoads, lots, many
HoonHooligan or a very bad driver
IffyBit risky or unreasonable
KnickersFemale underwear
LappyLaptop
LarrikinSomeone who’s always up for a laugh
LolliesSweets
MaccasMcDonalds
ManchesterSheets / Linen etc
MateFriend
MozzieMosquito
No DramaNo problem / it’s ok
No WorriesNo problem / it’s ok
No Wucka’sA truly Aussie way to say ‘no worries’
OutbackThe interior of Australia. Even more remote than “the bush”
PashTo kiss
Piss OffGo away, get lost
Piss UpA party, a get together and in Australia
PissedIntoxicated, Drunk
Pissed OffAn offensive way to tell someone to go away or get lost.
Rack OffThe less offensive way to tell someone to go away or get lost.
ReckonFor sure
Rellie / RelloRelatives
Ripper‘You little ripper’ = That’s fantastic!
RootedTired or Broken
RunnersTrainers, Sneakers
SangerSandwich
ServoService Station / Garage
SheilaA woman
SickAwesome; ‘that’s really sick mate’
SickieA sick day off work
SlabA carton of beers
SnagSausage
StokedHappy, Pleased
StrayaAustralia
StubbyA bottle of beer
StuffedTired
SunniesSunglasses
SwagSingle bed you can roll up, a bit like a sleeping bag
TeaDinner
TinnyCan of beer or small boat
ThongsFlip Flops
True BlueGenuinely Australian
TuckerFood
Two UpA gambling game played on Anzac day
U-IETo take a U-Turn when driving
Up yourselfStuck up
Woop WoopMiddle of nowhere “he lives out woop woop”
YaYou
YousPlural of you
Slang is very informal language that is usually spoken by a particular group of people.

Using Australian slang in a sentence

When you’ve read of list of most common Australian slang words, or true-blue Aussie slang, you’re well on your way to understanding your Aussie mates. If you want to use slang correctly, check out the following examples.
  • No worries

Let’s start with one of the most famous Australian slang phrases: No worries. It’s said to be the national motto of Australia. This expression means “do not worry about it”, or “it’s all right”. It can also mean “sure thing” and “you’re welcome.” So, when you bump into a person on the train and you apologise, they may respond with “no worries”, meaning “it’s all right”. Just be careful “no worry” is not a phrase used in English.

  • Bush, Outback and Woop Woop

Australia is big. And by big, we mean it’s the planet’s sixth largest country. However, most people live on Australia’s coast line. More than 85% of Australia’s 22 million population live in towns and cities on the eastern and southern coasts, in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. When people refer to the “outback,” they mean the large expanse of uninhabited/sparsely populated centre of the Australian continent. So, what’s the difference between “bush” and “outback”? The difference between outback and bush is that the outback is usually the remote and desolate areas of Australia. The bush is not the city, but towards the direction of the outback. It’s usually an area of natural woodlands, shrubs and undergrowth. So, you would drive from the city to the bush to the outback. Makes sense? Now, what about “woop woop”? You would say “he lives out woop woop,” meaning he lives in an isolated place or a destination outside of your local area, usually far away.

 

IELTS is available across Australia

 

  • Drinks: From a “coldie” to the “booze bus”

When you look through the list of 100 Australian Slang Words & Phrases, you’ll see a couple of slang words and phrases that relate to drinking alcohol. So, what do Aussies mean when they say: “Let’s grab a slab from the bottle-o for our piss-up later.” A “slab” is a quantity or beer, usually a box. You can buy this from a liquor store (Aussies call this a bottle shop, or “bottle-o”). Then, a “piss-up” is a very informal phrase for a party where alcoholic drinks are involved. So be careful that you don’t call every party a piss-up, because that isn’t always appropriate. Also, be careful not to drink alcohol and drive a vehicle. Australian Police are very strict, and you don’t want to get caught by a Booze Bus: a custom-built Police bus to check for intoxicated drivers on the road.

  • True-blue Aussies on Straya Day

Australia has a rich history, dating back some 65,000 years. On 26th January every year, Aussies celebrate Straya Day (Straya short for Australia, because it’s how most Aussies pronounce Australia). Australia Day is the official national day of Australia, where we celebrate all the things we love about Australia: land, sense of fair go, lifestyle, democracy, the freedoms we enjoy but particularly our people. On Straya Day, most people get together with their relos or mates and cook a true-blue Aussie tucker: snags on a barbie. Confused? Let’s translate that sentence: On Australia Day, most people get together with their relatives or friends and cook a genuine Australian meal: sausages on a barbecue.

International slang words

We’ve shown you the 100 Australian Slang Words & Phrases. But what about slang words that are used around the world? Some of these new international slang words are used in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and the UK (and even in non-English speaking countries).

Slang words or phrases develop over time. Some die out because nobody uses them anymore. Others don’t get used because people move on to a new slang word. Sometimes, slang words are so popular that they are absorbed into the common language. So, that’s how language grows and evolves over time. New words are added to the dictionary. At the same time, old ones disappear. What about new slang words in 2019 and 2020? Let’s check them out.

 

New slang words in 2019 and 2020

BAEAn acronym meaning “before anyone else.” It’s used between romantic partners or close friends. “Bae, you’re the best.”
BasicSomeone or something that’s very common or a conformist. “You’re so basic. You’re only wearing that because everyone else is.”
Boujee or bougieShort for bourgeois. Meaning rich or acting rich or aspiring to be a higher class than one is.
Bye FeliciaA fast way to tell someone to go away. “I know you’re just copying my style. Bye Felicia.”
CoinAnother term for money. “I need to make major coin.”
DyingSomething that was so funny, you died laughing. “This is way too funny. I’m dying!”
EpicVery enjoyable. “His latest novel was epic.”
ExtraMeans trying too hard, over the top, excessive, maybe a little dramatic. “Oh wow, don’t be so extra”
FierceThis signifies a strong, independent person. “I love her to death. She’s so fierce!”
FOMOAcronym for “fear of missing out”
GhostTo ignore someone on purpose. “We were chatting for a while, but now I’m being ghosted.”
GOATAn acronym that stands for “greatest of all time.” “I don’t care what you say, because Jake is the goat.”
GucciWhen you say this, it means that something is good or cool
LitIf something is “lit,” it means it’s super cool or “on fire.” “Last night’s party was lit.”
Low keyIt means it’s being done under the radar or they don’t want anyone to know. “I low key love Imagine Dragons, but don’t tell anyone!”
On pointOutstanding, perfectly executed. “Your hair looks on point today.”
ReadTo “read” someone means you’re calling them out for their bad behaviour.
SaltyAngry or bitter about something.  “Why are you so salty? I meant that comment as a joke.”
SavageSomeone who criticises people non-stop and doesn’t care what others will say.
ShipShort for (romantic) relationship.
TBHAcronym for “to be honest”
The teaWhen someone is dishing “the tea,” they’re gossiping, particularly with the juiciest or most dramatic gossip.
ThiccLooking good in your skin, not matter your shape or size.
ThirstyIf someone’s “thirsty,” it means they’re a little too eager or even desperate. “Look at the way he dressed-up for his second date. He’s way too thirsty.”
Throw shadeTo “throw shade” means to insult or say something unkind about someone. “I can’t believe he said that. He just threw some serious shade.”
WokeSlang for “awakened,” as in being highly aware of social injustices. “If you’re so woke, why didn’t you vote?”
YeetA very strong word for yes.
YOLOAn acronym for “you only live once,” encouraging people to seize the day. “Of course, you should go on that trip to Dublin! YOLO!
SMHThis is an acronym for “shaking my head.” Typically used when something is very obvious, plain old stupid, or a disappointment.
MintUsually means cool or nice. “Man, that car is mint.”

Can I use slang words in the IELTS Writing and Speaking test?

The IELTS Speaking test is supposed to represent a normal conversation between two people. So, you should avoid very formal language. For example, you don’t usually “furthermore” or “moreover” in every-day conversations. However, you probably also don’t want to use overly informal language. Some slang is probably too informal: if you tell your examiner “my friend threw me some shade,” he or she may not understand what you mean.

You can get a high IELTS band score if you show the ability to use idiomatic expressions appropriately, but perhaps stick with common idiomatic expressions that are well-known. We’ve provided some helpful lists with our Idioms A-Z: Explained.

 

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