Speak Australian English: Australian Slang Expressions (with Podcast!)

About 200 years ago, some English guy was sailing around the seas of the southern hemisphere and accidently stumbled upon a land that was full of desert, flies, a blazing sun, some of the strangest and most deadly animals you could ever find, and most importantly GOLD.

This English guy wanted this gold, so he decided to claim it on behalf of England and settled there. He sent ship loads of criminals there to mine for the gold during the “gold rush,” as a way to pay off their crimes, which in some cases were as innocent as “stealing a loaf of bread.”

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So, as time went on, these criminals started to be released, and lived amongst society as normal people again. In all of this time, the way these semi-educated, ex-convicts spoke started to change. Their accent was a mixture of many different types of English from all around the U.K., which has evolved into what we call today… AUSTRALIAN ENGLISH!!

In this article I’m going to show you how to sound more like an Australian by using some slang and expressions that are:

  1. Used in everyday Australian English
  2. Considered old fashioned and stereotypical

COMMON EVERYDAY WORDS/ SLANG EXPRESSIONS

Firstly, let me say that Australians don’t speak British English. In Aussie English (Aussie- Australian), there are hundreds of slang expressions and different sayings that it would be impossible to explain them all in this post. Since living away from Australia, I have noticed many other foreigners, especially Americans, find some of the common words I use different, and in some cases funny.

Here are some of the common everyday Australian words and sayings.

Mate/ G’day mate

In Australia everyone is your mate.

“Mate” is a way to say friend or colleague in Australian English. It has become a iconic expression for Australia and is used with people you don’t even know.

“G’day mate!” = “Good day mate” *can be used to greet someone at any time of the day.

Mate is a synonym for partner, or someone you share something with. Other terms with mate include; workmate, schoolmate, classmate, housemate

What do you reckon? / Whaddaya rekon?

This expression means “What do you think?” reckon = think

Although this phrase is used in other types of English, Australians tend to use this term on a frequent basis.

-“Whaddaya reckn of my new car?”
-“I reckon she’s a beauty!!”

Youse

Youse is one of the biggest grammar mistakes made by Australians on a daily basis. This word is used so commonly that most people don’t even know that it’s incorrect.

In Australian English “youse” is used as the plural form of “you.” The correct plural of you is you. In other places people have a tendency to say you guys or you all/ya’ll.

“What are youse looking at?”
“I haven’t  seen youse around, are you lost or something?”

No worries

This one is also big in British English, but I believe the Australians definitely use is more often.
No worries is a way to say you’re welcome or no problem.

“Hey thanks for helping me out mate.” “No worries!”

Cheers

I know you’re probably thinking that people say cheers all over the world as a way of celebrating before you drink a beer, but in Australian English it is used to say thank you. It’s also used when you say goodbye to someone in an informal way.

-“Here are those TPS reports you asked for Bob.”
“-Ahh, cheers mate!”

Are you keen?

The word keen means to be eager, excited or interested in something.
In Australia we use this to ask friends to join us in doing something or to get people excited about something.

“Hey there’s going to be a John Butler show tonight, are youse keen?”

Heaps / Heaps good

Heaps is used as a quantifier  just like a lot of. A lot of people / Heaps of people

In Australian informal English, we use the expression “heaps good” to say that something is or was really good.

“How was the show last night?” “It was heaps good!”
“Were there many people there?” “Yeah, heaps!”

You little beauty / you little ripper (You little rippa)

Both of these terms are used in the same way to celebrate or to show excitement about something.  Even though we use the word beauty, these expressions are never used to express beauty.

-“The Wallabies just beat the All blacks!” “You little ripperrrrrr!!!
– “You little beauty!! There’s going to be a holiday next Friday, that means we get a ling weekend.”

*The Wallabies are the Australian Rugby team, the Allblacks are from New Zealand (Australia’s rival).

Older Stereotypical Australian Expressions

Most other cultures and countries haven’t really got a good idea of what real Australian English is unless they have actually been there. A lot of the time when I meet people from the U.S.A., or even people from here in Brazil where I live, they often wonder why I don’t speak like The Crocodile Hunter, “Steve Irwin,” or  Crocodile Dundee “Paul Hogan.”

Unfortunately, these people don’t realize that the way these awesome guys speak is old fashioned and only common with people from farms and country cities. Some of these older expressions are still used by some people but generally for humorous purposes.

Stereotypical Australians and their Slang

  • Bloke – a man
  • Sheila– A woman
  • Dunny– the toilet
  • Cricky mate– Oh my god *r.i.p. Steve Irwin
  • Fair dinkum– It is true

To learn more about Australian expressions, both the common ones and the older stereotypical ones, take a look at this website and start practicing your Aussie lingo (lingo- colloquial language). http://www.goingrank.com.au/glossary.html

Conclusion

Like most other styles of English, whether it be American or British, to perfect the language you need to have a lot of contact with that accent and be exposed to that culture.

If you would like to work on your Australian accent and pick up some common Australian terms, I suggest you look for Australian media online and spend a couple of months watching Australian movies, T.V. series, listen to Australian music.

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14 Comments

  1. Pedro Henrique on February 5, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Hey Chad, great article man. I always appreciate this kind of topic. Anyway, can I use mate for girls as well?

    Cheers!

  2. Vinicius Arcanjo on April 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Hey Chad I’m here again! As I told you in another shout out, I’m moving to Sydney next year. I want to be comprehensible to Australians when I arrive there. So far, I haven’t found a Australian pronunciation dictionary, however I’ve got the Oxford dictionary for British pronunciation and I realized that Australian English is very close to British English. Do you think I should get rid of my American accent and trying to sound like British?

    Cheers, mate!

  3. Joanna Acila Aparece Buniel on January 12, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I LOVE IT. i HAVE A REPORT ABOUT THE BEST IN AUSTRALIA AND I FOUND THIS! THIS REALLY HELPS. 🙂

  4. Jonathan Estimo on January 22, 2014 at 4:35 am

    Ganyan nga sige paaaaaaaaaaaa

  5. Jonathan Estimo on January 22, 2014 at 4:35 am

    Ganyan nga sige paaaaaaaaaaaa

  6. Joanna Acila Aparece Buniel on January 22, 2014 at 4:36 am

    I want more 🙂

  7. Joanna Acila Aparece Buniel on January 22, 2014 at 4:36 am

    I want more 🙂

  8. Joanna Acila Aparece Buniel on January 22, 2014 at 4:36 am

    I want more 🙂

  9. Magda Sally Klein on February 27, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    "no worries mate " it´s my favourite australian slang 🙂 I ? it ! 😉

  10. Rubin Havatone on March 7, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I
    used to love this blog. Thank you, I will try and check back more
    frequently. How frequently you update your website?

  11. Ian A. Hawkins on July 20, 2014 at 5:36 am

    'Youse' is NOT commonly used any more. Much more rife is …'anythink' & 'nothink' in place of 'anything' & 'nothing.' Also 'arksed' instead of 'asked'.
    "Cobber' – a male 'friend/mate,' is still used in rural areas of Tasmania.

  12. Donna Jones Brown on July 30, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Chad, thanks for the info. My first novel (published December 2013) has an Australisn character my readers fell in love with. I'm currently working on book two of the three-part series. My Aussie character has a bigger role in book three. Although this character is based on my dear friend from Brisbane, I haven't seen her in a while and need to refresh myself on the common vernacular. Thanks so much! (Blackwater Creek, by Donna R Brown, available on Amazon, also for Kindle, Nook, available for order at your favorite bookseller.) I wouldn't mind some fair criticism. Thanks again!

  13. Pim on November 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    This article is the duck’s guts! It rips the bag! (exceptionally good)
    If you plan to go to Australia, learning the slang is essential if you want to socialise.
    At some stage, you’ll be invited to the “local” (pub) and you need to know what to do when it’s your “shout” (turn to buy the beers).
    Good work guys!

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