Speaking the Lingo—Aussie Slang - The Wise TravellerDepends on which you way you look at it: Australia is either the largest island or the smallest continent in the world. Aussies do speak English—it just isn't "British" English. They have a tendency to speak super quickly, to drop every letter that can be dropped without loosing the word entirely, to shorten words as much as possible and to use imaginative and colourful phrases relating only to their country that may be prone to inducing hilarious mental images.

Known as "Strine" or "Straya", it may confuse, perplex and downright sound like a load of gibberish to foreigners. Myth has it that strine developed due to the locals having to speak through clenched teeth to stop the flies from landing in the mouth. The unusual pronunciation of words mystifies tourists, as much as the shock of learning that kangaroos do not bounce up the main roads of the big cities.

Below are a few unique everyday Aussie expressions and slang terms that all tourists should become familiar with, if they wish to converse with the locals and not get into a state of total confusion from lack of interpretation.

  • "Yeah, no worries" does not mean that the person is worried. It simply means, "yes".
  • "She'll be right" does not mean that the speaker is referring to a person that is insanely always right.  It means, "everything will be okay."
  • "She's a bloody ripper" translates to something awesome, not that a female is after you for your money.
  • "Carry on like a pork chop" is not about a person that loves eating pork chops. It's merely saying that someone is acting in an overly dramatic manner.Speaking the Lingo—Aussie Slang - The Wise Traveller
  • "Goon bag" does not relate to someone that is crazy or a form of luggage. It's the name given to cheap wine sold in a plastic bladder (bag) with an airtight valve packaged into a cardboard box that can also be referred to as "Chateau Cardboard".
  • "Crack the shits" is the irreverent way to pronounce that someone is angry or annoyed, as the alternative vision for this inane statement could not be mentioned here.
  • "Budgie smugglers" does not refer to people stealthily running off with colourful little birds hidden under their coats. It's the term given to small or tight male swimwear featuring the Speedo logo, as they cause the "male bulge" of his private anatomy to resemble a small, incarcerated bird.
  • "Chuck a sickie" has nothing to do with the physical act of being sick, but is used when someone takes a day off work for any reason other than being sick.
  • "Spit the dummy" does not refer to a child spitting out his or her dummy (aka pacifier), but refers to a person losing their temper in a display of anger.
  • "Pull your head in" does not imply the literal meaning of trying to pull your head down into your neck, but it does mean to mind your own business or to shut up.
  • "On the piss" has nothing to do with a toilet activity, but is the term for drinking alcohol.
  • "To go troppo" does not refer to someone that lives in the tropical regions, but alludes to the myth that when in a hot climate, the heat will make you go crazy.
  • "Two pot screamer" is not about screaming banshees waving two pots around a kitchen, but is said of a person who can't hold their alcohol and gets drunk very easily.

Speaking the Lingo—Aussie Slang - The Wise TravellerThere is one slight problem when travelling throughout the country: Many states and cities have their own idiosyncrasies and regional slang happening, such as:

  • Australia is definitely the country to experience a meal of freshly cooked fish and chips sitting on the foreshore at your favourite beach. But you must know how to order those carb inducing battered slices of potato depending on where you are, as they are known as potato cakes, potato fritters or potato scallops.
  • Take your pick from cossies, togs, bathers or swimmers, depending on where you are, to describe your swimwear.
  • "Bag" versus "port" is another puzzling noun to describe luggage.  Queenslanders have shortened "portmanteau" to become "port", whilst basically the rest of Aussies will refer to their luggage as a "bag".
  • Frankfurts or cheerios—you know those processed red sausages that are supposedly made of meat. In Victoria they are called "cocktail" sausages, New South Wales names them "frankfurts", whilst Queenslanders will cook up "cheerios" for kids' (aka ankle biters) parties.
  • It depends what state you are sitting in a movie theatre as to whether you are decadently licking an ice-cream "choc-top" or a "choc-bomb".Speaking the Lingo—Aussie Slang - The Wise Traveller
  • Ordering a beer is like dodging bullets if you wish to get the right size glass of amber liquid to satisfy your thirst. From pots to middies to schooners, you will soon quickly learn that "jugs" of beer may be the easiest option.

If you are being invited for a "barbie in the arvo" by a "bogan", depending on your tolerance for uncultured conversation around a quite often home-built barbecue with charcoaled sausages cooking, it may be best to decline the offer. If you accept, be prepared to go to the "bottle-o" (aka liquor store) where you may find a few "grommets" (young surfers) hanging out. They will be sure to have their "eskies" (aka drink coolers) "chockers" (very full) with a "slab" (24-pack of beer).

"Fair dinkum"—that's Aussies for you.

Gail Palethorpe, a self proclaimed Australian gypsy, is a freelance writer, photographer and eternal traveller. Check out her website Gail Palethorpe Photography and her Shutterstock profile.