A tourist’s guide to Aussie Lingo

"Oi Mate, chuck a u-ey." A six-step guide to learning the Aussie lingo.

Meg Caswell
April 7, 2017
When travelling around the world, you expect to encounter various language barriers and unfamiliar customs. As a Brit moving to Australia, however, you may think you’re in for an easy ride, especially when it comes to the linguistic side of Aussie life. Well think again my Pommie friends….
Whilst Australia’s culture is somewhat close to that of the UK (aside from their considerably warmer weather and superior drinking abilities), the Australians have developed some weird and wonderful linguistic methods you may wish to master if you plan on surviving an Aussie conversation.
Language learning

 Step One: Shorten your words

If there’s one thing you’ll learn from an Aussie conversation, it’s that Australian’s love to shorten their words. Be it for efficiency or ease, this is a linguistic hack that you’ll need to get to grips with if you want to impress your Aussie mates.


·      Australian (UK) - Aussie (AU)

·      Australian: Straya

·      Afternoon - Arvo

·      Avocado - Avo

·      Breakfast - brekkie

·      Sausage - snagger

·      McDonalds - macca’s


In true Aussie style, the Australian’s have combined this linguistic method with their love of alcohol. Here’s a quick guide on how to order a drink in Australia:

·      Half a pint - midi

·      Three quarters of a pint - scooner

·      Bottle of beer - stubby

·      Can of beer - tinny

Step Two: Add an ‘o’ to the end your words

As with the frequently used ‘arvo’, Australian’s love to add o’s on the end of their words to give their vocabulary that Australian authenticity. This is a particularly popular method when it comes to common names.


·      Seano

·      Sharno

·      Jane-o

·      Jonno

The Aussie’s sometimes combine the above two steps, both shortening their words AND adding an ‘o’. See a further alcohol-related example below:

·      Bottle Shop: Bottle-o


Step Three: Watch out for fake friends

A fake friend is a foreign word that is spelt similarly to a word in one’s own language, yet carries a completely different meaning. As a UK citizen, this can get you into some sticky situations in Australia, especially if you’re looking for a pair of flip-flops.


·      Flip-flop (UK): Thongs (AU)

(English definition of thong: a pair of knickers, a.k.a. G-String)

·      Trainers (UK): Runners (AU) 

(English definition of runner: a person who runs)

Australian thongs

 Step Four: Re-learn your vegetables

Whilst familiar English words sometimes hold a different meaning in the Australian language, some words are simply replaced completely. This rule seemingly applies more with vegetables and food-related items, although you will come across the odd wild card (see ‘doona’).


·      Courgette (UK): Zucchini (AU)

·      Pepper : Capsicum

·      Chips: Crisps

·      Duvet: Doona


 Step Five: How to phrase a question

It can prove difficult learning singular words and phrases in the Aussie language. If you’re after a quick solution to your linguistic problems, there's a single method you can follow to fast track your way to becoming an Aussie.

This method is all about how you phrase a question. Use one of the two-step formulas below, and you’ll fit right in with your Australian mates!

·      Forumla One: Statement  +  hey ?

·      Formula Two: Question  +  mate ?

Note: In Australia, ‘mate’ pretty much refers to any person/stranger/friend


·      Jaime was really drunk yesterday, hey?

·      How’s it going mate?

Swear Jar

 Step Six: Don’t be offended by foul language 

Swear words may be considered impolite and offensive in the UK, but they are basically classed as terms of endearment in Australia. Put it this way—I’d be more concerned if my Australian mates didn’t drop the odd s-bomb into conversation. So don’t be afraid to casually swear now and again (within reason of course - swearing directly at a stranger will probably lead to a punch in the face).

Meg Caswell

Hi everyone, my name’s Meg! Having fallen in love with Perth over the past few years, I finally decided to relocate here from the UK in early 2016. Although I love Perth for its obvious beauty and vibrancy, it’s the city’s unique and hidden treasures that really attracted me to the West Australian way of life. I now live here as a full-time flat white lover and brunch enthusiast, dedicated to discovering Perth’s hidden business heroes.