The Australian Slang Terms You Need to Know

Rachel Hughes is a student at University of Colorado, Boulder. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and is currently studying abroad with ISA in Gold Coast, Australia.

Although Australia is an English-speaking country, sometimes it feels like there is still a language barrier. Not only does the thickness of accents vary from region to region, sometimes they can be very strong. Getting around isn’t as easy as you may have thought it would be down under. Aussies love to abbreviate and make new sayings for words that we use regularly. Here are a few of the most-used slang terms that will help you navigate your new life in Australia.

  • Ankle Biter – This means a small child. I personally think that this is hilarious. Seems like Aussies outwardly call children annoyances, which is awesome because… they can be. “Grab your ankle biter”, “This is for ankle biters”, “Got an ankle biter?” All of these are examples of how people use this slang term.


  • Barbie – Aussies say barbie when they are referring to a barbecue, which they do a lot. Barbecues are a part of the Australian culture and life. Having been here for less than two weeks, I have already gone to a few different barbecues. And let me tell you, I did not think that’s what they meant when they referred to it as a Barbie.


  • Chunder – Even in the states, different areas call throwing up different things. Chunder means vomit in Australia, makes sense because I think the word sounds pretty gross. If you have to chunder, or somebody had a chunder, now you know that they threw up. I guess not every word is going to sound good with an accent.


  • Earbashing – This is kind of what it sounds like, it means to be non-stop talking. You don’t want to be an earbasher, or if you are, at least you now know what it is if someone calls you this. Australians are very relaxed and go with the flow, not a lot of people are talking at a rapid pace all the time. Chill, let’s have a conversation!


  • Kangaroos loose in the top paddock – This is one of my favorite Australian sayings. Of course they refer to kangaroos when they are talking about people. This means that someone who is kind of stupid, or saying things that don’t make sense at all. Saying that someone has a kangaroo loose in the top paddock means that they’re a little off, like having a screw loose. Hopefully this is something you only hear about someone else.


  • Porky – A porky is a lie. Someone could refer to it as “That’s a pork pie”, or “He’s porky”. These are just ways of saying that someone is full of it or a liar. Don’t trust a porky!


  • Up oneself- This also kind of means what it sounds like. To be up on yourself means that you’re full of yourself, or conceited. “She’s really up herself” is saying that she’s really obsessed with herself, or thinks really highly of herself.


  • Wobbly boot on, he’s got the – I swear, all of these are real. Half the things the Aussies say I have to ask them to repeat five times. This phrase suggests that someone has had too much to drink. Which makes sense once you think about it: picture the “walking with a wobbly boot” and, to top it off, the sentence is out of order. It can be hard to keep up with all of these misconstrued sentences as sayings when you can’t tell the difference.


  • Wowser- This means that someone is a prude. “Oh, don’t be a wowser” is like saying don’t be a spoilsport. If you hear this, it means that they want you to loosen up!


I hope that this helps you figure out what Australians are saying some of the time. It’s not all of their funny slang, but it covers most of the bases. Moving to a new country can be hard, even when they (technically) speak your language!

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2 thoughts

  1. Hi Alexander, when you can could you write about the Chocolate Industry, down to the shoppes and caffes? I miss you.

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