Slang and the colourful, relaxed linguistic twists of New Zealand and Australia

Aside from the distinctive accents of those of us who grew up Down Under, a lot of words are unfamiliar to many people in Canada. Many of these have their roots in regions of England, where many early European settlers came from. They carried their unique colourlul language with them, and then developed it from there. Cut off by great distance for many years before modern communication and easy travel, some old words that have died out the home countries are found almost exclusively down under. You can hear playful things that fall roughly into the category of Cockney Rhyming Slang as part of the most familiar vernacular down under. There are also many new words created in our countries, and of course many adopted from the Aboriginal and Maori languages.

G’Day Cobber, How’s it going?

lingo-lizard_drinkingHeard you’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking. Fair dinkum, that job of yours is hard yakka. You put in more hours than the Prime Mincer!

lingo-sticksWhich is too bad ‘cause you missed the big do – again.

Yep, the entire mob was over for a barbie this arvo and we had a ripper of a time. Stan came in from the big smoke with his rellies, Lucky ducked in while he was on lingo-barbiea smoko, and Elaine brought that new hubby of hers over to show him off. He’s a bushie, a real ocker, but a good bloke. Definitely got a few bob, AND he brought a slab, the sticks and the footy – howzat, mate!

It was beaut to see Lucy out from the land of the long white cloud, and her Kiwi mates, Greg and Jo, with their ankle biters. And Cath. She was supposed to be scooting around past the Black Stump, but she buggered up her ute. Somewhere lingo-blackstumpoff the beaten track, she tried to do a Uey, pranged the car, stuffed the bonnet, and had to get a tow back to town. Dead set, that sheila has rotten luck!

Wozza came by, which was fair enough, but his bludger cousin, Sid, tagged along. Don’t like Sid. Crooked as a dog’s hind leg, but Wozza said she’ll be apples, mate, so what are you gonna do.Anyway, he was off his scone, eventually got as full as a boot, and then came a cropper from the top of the gum tree. Said he was up there scouting for the dunny. What a drongo!

lingo-blue_heelerSpeaking of dogs, Murphy brought Blue, who spent most of the arvo chasing the moggy through the bush. It was a real hoot!

Some of us donned our cossies and went for a dip in the billabong, while the rest sat under the coolibah tree and listened to Stevo and Di skite. They just got back from a trip to the Coathanger, Brizzie, and The Rock, and had a corker of a time! Di’s a Canuck, you know, so this was her first gander at the lucky country. Reckoned she saw a bunyip out on the wallaby track, but Stevo supposed it was probably just a big red or a swaggie – or maybe a Canuck mozzie! Big bloody things, they are, according to Di!

Ned tried to crash but we told him to rack off. Do you remember seeing his mug in the paper a few months back? He and some other galahs nicked a jumbuck from Matilda’s paddock. Clancy rounded up some jackeroos and took off after them. Said they were going like a rat up a drainpipe, but they eventually nabbed them out woop woop somewhere and handed them over to the Blue Heelers. Anyway, Ned had heard there was a free feed, but he took off when Johnno told him to hit the frog and toad. What a yobbo!

The tucker was ace – snags, chook sangers, prawns, damper, Vegemite on toast, and then some nanas and rockmelon. It was BYO, so the esky was full of tinnies, plonk and champers. And before everyone left, we got out the billy, made a cuppa or twelve, and topped it all off with a slice of pav, a few lamingtons, and some ANZAC bikkies.

Fair dinkum, it was a real bewdy! Except for the blowies. Aussie salute, big time!

Yeah, I know, I’ve been bunging it on a bit, but you really should’ve been there. No worries. Next time.

Oh, did you hear Chaz and Judy’s news? They won a bloody big tellie on a scratchie last week. Lucky buggers!

Well, I’ve really enjoyed our little chinwag. What about a game of aerial pingpong on the weekend? C’mon. Don’t be a piker. We’re heading to the pub after. My shout!



To translate this strine, go to “What did ya say, mate?!”

And for more Aussie lingo, check out:

www.koalanet.com.au/australian slang.html
• www.aussieslang.com/
• www.australiatravelsearch.com.au/trc/slang.html
• www.australianexplorer.com/slang

A Down Under Lexicon


  • ace – excellent
  • ‘ang on – wait a moment
  • arvo – afternoon
  • as scarce as hen’s teeth – extremely rare
  • ANZAC – Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, WWI soldiers, also popular biscuits
  • Aussie – Australian


  • barbie – barbecue
  • beaut – very good, excellent (also ‘bewdy’)
  • better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick – things have turned out better than expected but in a backhanded way
  • big smoke – large city
  • billabong – waterhole
  • billy – tin pot with wire handle for boiling water for tea over an open fire
  • bludger – layabout, someone who wants something for nothing
  • bombed out – unsuccessful, drunk
  • bonzer – good, excellent
  • bung it on – to skite or exaggerate
  • bushwhacked – exhausted
  • by crikey – an expression of surprise


  • cactus – useless, broken
  • chewy – chewing gum
  • chook – a chicken
  • chuck a wobbly – go berserk
  • coathanger – the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • cobber – one’s mate or true friend
  • come a cropper – to fall heavily
  • cossie – swimming costume
  • crooked as a dog’s hind leg – a person who is not to be trusted


  • damper – type of bread cooked in the ashes of an open fire
  • dead set – absolute certainty
  • dinky-di – genuine, the absolute truth, (pronounced ‘dinky-dye’)
  • don’t get off your bike – calm down
  • dunny – an outside toilet


  • esky – portable icebox


  • fair dinkum – honest, genuine
  • fair enough – alright, acceptable
  • flat out like a lizard drinking – lying prone, extremely busy
  • full as a boot – drunk


  • g’day – greeting, hello
  • g’donya – good for you
  • godzone – God’s own country – Australia (according to Australians) and New Zealand (according to New Zealanders)
  • grog – alcohol


    • how’s it going – greeting
    • hooroo – goodbye


  • jumbuck – sheep


  • Kiwi – New Zealander


  • like a possum up a gum tree – moving fast
  • like a rat up a drainpipe – moving even faster
  • lingo – language


  • mate – friend
  • matilda – a blanket roll carried by a swagman (as in ‘Walzing Matlida’)
  • moggy – a cat
  • mug – fool


  • no worries – everything’s okay


  • ocker – uncultivated Australian male
  • outback – the inland country far away from the cities


  • pack of galahs – group of lazy, idle, non-working people
  • pavlova – dessert of meringue with fruit and cream filling
  • possum – term of endearment, soft and cuddly
  • prang – minor car accident


  • rack off – to go away
  • rellies – relatives


  • sangers – sandwiches
  • seeyaz – goodbye, see you later
  • she’ll be right – it’ll be fine
  • shout – to buy drinks for everyone
  • smoko – break from work (originally for a cigarette)
  • snag – sausage
  • strewth – expression of surprise, indignation
  • swagman – a man who travels around the country on foot and takes odd jobs
  • strike a light – popular expression that doesn’t mean anything


  • too right – I quite agree
  • true blue – genuine
  • tucker – food


  • up a gumtree – on the wrong track


  • wallaby track – a path to the interior of the continent
  • wobbly – tantrum, as in ‘don’t chuck a wobbly’


  • yakka – work
  • you’re not wrong – you’re right


What? No zed words. C’mon, mates, let’s have your suggestions for adding new colourful words into our little list, starting with any letter!

Leave a Reply